Meet Anne Clark, Department Head/Children’s Librarian

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Meet Anne Clark, Department Head/Children's Librarian

This month, The Library Adventure welcomes Anne Clark. She is Department Head/Children’s Librarian at Alice and Jack Wirt Public Library in the Bay County Library System in Bay City, Michigan and she blogs at So Tomorrow. I asked Anne about her work at the library as well as the road she took to become a librarian. Here is our exchange:

Anne Clark

Anne Clark

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

Anne: I’m the head of a very busy children’s department. So in addition to storytime, working the reference desk, and other children’s librarian duties, I also do some management tasks like scheduling, performance reviews, and our collection development budget.

TLA: Whom does your library serve?

Anne: I work at the main branch of the Bay County Library system, which has 3 other branches and a bookmobile. Bay County has a population of 107,000 in mid-Michigan.  We attract patrons from well beyond the borders of Bay County.

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

Anne: My branch has some wonderful amenities: We have a drive-through pick up window, a (privately-operated) coffee/sandwich shop, an enclosed outdoor reading garden, and a fireplace. The children’s department has its own bathroom as well as a room for nursing or pumping mothers who desire additional privacy. We also have lots of big windows to let in lots of light. One reason I accepted this job is that I love the welcoming environment at my branch. This is a place people want to stay and hang out in. Collection-wise, we are a pretty standard large public library. We have a generously sized children’s collection

TLA: Describe your path to librarianship.

Anne: In high school, I signed up to work as a teacher’s aide for course credit because there weren’t any classes I wanted to take during that time. An avid reader, I was assigned to be an aide for the school librarian. I did some circulation but mostly shelving and typing labels for materials. This was in the 2000-2001 school year, so I had never used a typewriter before (or since). I enjoyed the work but never thought about being a librarian as a career.

In college, I studied writing, but didn’t want to be a full-time writer. I needed a summer job so I thought about the different jobs I’d already had (including retail, waitressing, etc.) and remembered my high school aide experience as pleasant. I had never been to any of the public libraries in the area I went to college but I did a little Googling and saw that one of the systems was hiring. I applied, was interviewed, and hired as a shelver for the summer.

After graduating from college, I went back to that system and worked in circulation. I still think working the checkout desk is the best possible training for the rest of library work due to the fast paced nature and tough customer service issues that can arise, but I knew I wanted to work in children’s. I worked at a very small branch with only 4 staff-members, so I was often asked to help the children’s parapro with programs, which as a library school student I was happy to do.

After a few months, the children’s person moved to a different staff and I was selected to replace her! I was about half-way through library school at this point. After graduating, I took a full-time job in a different part of the state as a children’s librarian.

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

Anne: I wish library users knew how much more help I could give them beyond just finding a book by title or author–recommendations for other books, or even movies that I think they might enjoy too! Brimming with ideas sometimes but sometimes people don’t seem receptive.

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

Anne: One of my favorite library resources is Flannel Friday! I’m biased since I’m one of the organizers, but it has honestly grown beyond my wildest dreams. It’s primarily a project by and for librarians but some of our heaviest users at my library are preschool teachers and other early childhood people, and this is a project that would greatly enrich their work with kids.

Thanks so much to Anne for joining us at The Library Adventure this month. If you work in a library and would like to be interviewed for a future post, please fill out our interest form.

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.

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