Meet Emily Andrus, Youth Librarian

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Interviews
Each month, The Library Adventure interviews a library worker. Joining us this month is Emily Andrus, Youth Librarian at Queen Creek Branch Library, in Queen Creek, Arizona, which is part of the Maricopa County Library District. She blogs at LiteraryHoots.com.
Emily Andrus

Emily Andrus

The Library Adventure: Please give a brief description of your current position.

Emily: I’m the Youth Librarian at a public library, which means I am responsible for storytimes; weeding picture book, reader, and juvenile collections; planning summer reading program activities; and aiding in any other library programming. My library is on the smaller side, and as such, I also assist with check-in and staffing the main information desk.

TLA: Tell us a little bit about the community your library serves.

Emily: My library serves the rapidly growing community of Queen Creek, a suburb of Phoenix, AZ, where houses are large and cheap. This means there are a lot of young middle-class families. According to the last census, nearly 40% of the population is under the age of 18; ten percent are under the age of 5. That’s a lot of kids! Also, come winter, we also see an increase of seniors in our community–or “snowbirds” as we like to call them–who come down for a few months for our warm winter. While they are only here temporarily, they do make good use of our collection and facilities. So whether it’s planning for a large storytime or assisting older patrons with electronics, I get to serve a great community.

TLA: What is unique about your library building and/or its collection?

Emily: The Queen Creek library building and collection are rather unique in that it is “deweyless.” Materials are catalogued and organized according to ShelfLogic–focusing on genres or topics, instead of authors or numbers. The layout is very laid-back, with a lot of displays and casual shelving (not in perfect parallel lines). It’s meant to feel more browsable, or more like a bookstore. The library itself is one large open space, with implied delineations between collections (e.g. different carpet in the teen area, fun-colored shelving units for kids’ books, etc.). The building is only six years old and rather modern. It’s a different sort of library than many people (especially our older patrons!) are used to.

What is also unique is that all of our acquisitions and cataloging are done at Administration, the downtown headquarters of the Maricopa County Library District. Admin (for short) is not a library itself–just offices. This often creates a disconnect between what admin officials think is best for the libraries and what we librarians would like to see. It makes for slow changes and difficulty in requesting materials, but creates continuity between all seventeen of the branches. There is also a free courier service between branches, so often, another library will have needed materials. This benefits staff and patrons alike.

TLA: What is the craziest/funniest/strangest thing you have ever seen or experienced on the job?

Emily: One of the craziest things just happened to me the other day, in that the patron somehow used her husband’s card to checkout her books (on our self-checkouts) when the card itself was expired and unusable. She came up to the desk afterwards because a brief error message came up on screen, and when I checked the books, they had somehow been put on her account–when she didn’t even have her library card with her! The accounts weren’t linked at all, and the self-checkouts shouldn’t have even recognized her husbands card! I’m still baffled about it. Same with the entire IT dept. Anyway, that’s a rather unique and random experience.

But I do have to share this one funny story: in a storytime all about hygiene, we were singing about different ways to stay clean with the tune “This is the way we wash our face…” I would ask the kids to think of ideas and we’d sing it. Kids said comb our hair and brush our teeth–and we would do the actions. It was adorable really. Then I had the cutest little girl right in front raise her hand and yell “WIPE OUR BUTTS!” and proceeded to show me the action for doing so. Needless to say, we ended the song a little early due to the laughter.

TLA: What is one thing you wish library users knew?

Emily: I wish more library users knew that we librarians are here to help–and that we’re better than Google. Really, this is the overarching answer, because when a patron knows what a librarian knows, they’ve got access to all the ins and outs of a library. Too often, I come across patrons who just want to figure it all out on their own: what a good book would be for their child’s report, how to find a clean romance novel for a teenager, or ways to improve their resume. And if they do have to ask me a question, it will be the bare minimum, e.g. “Where are books on tigers?” Sometimes, this satisfies the user’s need. But other times, I really do enjoy when I get to go in depth with a patron–yes, I really do have a master’s degree, let me show you why. I can show parents not only our books on tigers, but the awesome databases we subscribe to that have encyclopedia articles and links homework help websites. I love to recommend the perfect book after discovering people’s reading preferences. Of course, I’m not perfect, but it means a lot when the same patron comes back, because they appreciate what I can help them find. I wish more patrons took advantage of my knowledge.

TLA: Give a quick plug for a favorite library resource.

Emily: My favorite library resources include blogs like Storytime Katie and Story Time Secrets because of the extensive “storytime themes” lists. I can often find great ideas to supplement my own themed storytimes. My other favorite is resource is actually a textbook from my school days: Storytelling: Art & Technique by Ellin Greene and Janice M. Del Negro. It has all of the technical insight behind storytimes, as well as thorough book lists and ideas. It’s at my desk at work whenever I need some quick information.

Thanks so much, Emily! Check back next month to meet another librarian.

About Katie Fitzgerald

Katie Fitzgerald holds degrees in English and library science, and has worked in small town and big city libraries, serving both children and teens. You can read her book reviews and posts about story time, picture books, and early literacy at Story Time Secrets. Also follow her blog on Facebook for kidlit quotations, story time suggestions, and interesting links.

Comments

  1. Emily, your library sounds really innovative. You’re not that far from me. I’ll have to go on a library field trip with my kids and check it out! (I’d like to see the “deweyless” shelves.)

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