Meet our most recent Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Clare Hollander!
What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?
Clare Hollander, Kansas City Public Library. I am a children’s librarian, currently managing the youth services floor of our Central location.
What originally got you interested in working at a library?
Originally, it was all about the books, like so many people. I loved browsing, reading, talking about books. Writing. My first library job was as a student helper in 6th grade, and my favorite thing to do was to sort cards using the card sorter (remember those?). I’ve always enjoyed alphabetizing.
What keeps you coming back every day?
The people. What good are the books if you don’t connect them to their readers? It is my favorite thing to do I think, Reader’s Advisory.
What’s challenging about your work?
Managing the unique nature of our set-up regarding our collections. More than half of our books are in closed-stacks due to the limitations of architecture! We are able to put many of our books face-out and at eye level for many of our patrons which is great for browsing, but when looking for specific things, patrons rely on us to run to the stacks. We love to do it, but keeping up with the new books coming in finds us constantly shifting books to the back to make room. It’s complicated. And challenging!
Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?
Yes, pretty much on a daily basis! This week I was a bit blown away to overhear a parent commenting on all of the tactile things we have available for kids to handle besides books. Writing and drawing with various implements, playing with puzzles, puppets, board games; these things vs holding a computer mouse or device all the time is one of the reasons this particular parent likes bringing her 8 year old to the library. I had no idea it was getting that bad out there!
Who is one of your mentors?
I was very lucky to have come on board at KCPL a year or two behind April Roy, current past president of MLA, and she has mentored me from the very beginning particularly around story times and the literature of early childhood. My story times sometime see as many as 100 or more participants, and I learned so much about how to make it flow from her training me years ago how to handle large groups, from choosing the materials to dealing with chatty parents. I see her influence in my work on a weekly basis and I am eternally grateful to her.
What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.
Jon Scieszka (rhymes with Fresca). In honor of national poetry month I’ve been reading aloud his book Science Verse to the 3rd 4th and 5th graders who come for read-alouds and check out once a month. Not only is he funnier than anyone, he’s super smart and creative, too (check out his website if you don’t believe me: www.jsworldwide.com ).There’s all kinds of science here, (the end pages are the periodic table of elements—or are they?) as well as all kinds of poetry represented by his parodies of famous works, sometimes put to famous tunes such as “I’ve been working on the food Chain.” One group of 3rd graders left singing the chorus/refrain “who’s for lunch today? Who’s for lunch today? Eat or be eaten, that’s the only way!” Nothing is more gratifying than to finish reading a book this awesome and have a hand go up out there immediately to ask “can I borrow that book?”
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Jon Scieszka is on the Governing Board of the Rabbit Hole, a local endeavor in Kansas City with the mission of creating an Explor-a-storium, an interactive museum of the picture book. The Rabbit Hole will be opening later this coming fall in time for the 100th anniversary of Children’s Book Week in November and like everybody else, I can’t wait! Check out their website for more information: www.rabbitholekc.org
Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee? Examples could be:
…a new employee you’d like to introduce
…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path
…an employee you find inspirational
…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known
…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories
…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience
…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers
Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at email@example.com. We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!