Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for libraries and for the outstanding librarians serving youth in schools and public libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest Kathleen Ageton.
I met Kathleen on our trip to Maui last October and asked her to do an interview for Library Lions. Welcome Kathleen! Tell us about yourself and your library.
I’ve been the Youth Librarian at Kihei Public Library, Maui, Hawaii, for the past 10 years.
The Hawaii State Public Library System is the only state-wide system in the United States. Hawaii is the most geographically isolated place in the world, so I'm grateful that we have a wonderful cooperative library system, where any non-reference item in any public library in the entire State can be requested and sent to any branch library for patrons to borrow. You can borrow a book on Maui and return it on Kauai. You can ask for a book that belongs to Molokai Public Library to be brought to Kihei Library for checkout.
We’re a busy branch. Here is a photo of my desk area in our behind-the-scenes workroom. It's a huge mess, replete with Halloween costume, storytime props, Pajama Storytime duck slippers, and ever-present pile of stuff to do.
Our branch specializes in programs for young people. Each week we have a Toddler Storytime and a Preschool Storytime with a craft following each storytime. Each month we have a Pajama Storytime, a Young Volunteers Club and our First Fridays Teen Literature Group (book club).
We just started a monthly Family Movie Night, making use of movie licensing that the State subscribes to. In addition, we often have other special programs such as the annual trip to the fire station next door, a Fancy Nancy dress-up event, a craft program or a performer. Photo of crowd below watching magician Timothy Wenk.
Our manager, Jessica Gleason, and all our staff work together to support youth programs and to make people of all ages feel welcome. We are a small staff (2 librarians, 1 library technician, 2 library assistants, 3 student helpers, 1 janitor and 1 security guard), yet we are proud to offer dynamic programming that brings many to our beautiful branch library. In one 12-month period we held 138 programs with an attendance of 6018 people.
The Skinny: Briefly, what do you love most about your work?
I love that I get to work with children and books. I know I'm doing something important in the world, something significant. I get to have a role, however small, in children's lives. Many people look back on their lives and might consider their large homes or exciting vacations as points of pride and achievement. I think I count my life's accomplishments in knee hugs from little ones, in children who return to tell me about a great book they've read, in grown-ups telling me that our library helped their child get excited about reading.
One day an English-as-a-second-language patron asked for a book. I didn't quite understand what she was saying, but I did catch the word "pigeon." Assuming she was a tourist and interested in learning more about Hawaii and its customs and culture, I searched and found for her some funny and serious books about the local dialect, "pidgin." The patron looked confused. She looked at me, looked at the books, looked back at me then flapped her arms like a bird. She wanted books on the bird--pigeon.
Another day a youngster came to the library and asked for the book, Sautee the Goat. I imagined one of those slapstick elementary-level series that usually involve the word underpants or boogers in the title, or some kind of joke book, or maybe even an exotic cookbook. I tried to get more information from the child who was having difficulty describing the book. In a sudden epiphany, the title came to me: Zlateh the Goat.
A Lion’s Pride of Programs
Our library system has fantastic databases that patrons can access from home. With a few clicks of a mouse, you can learn how to fix your car, find out about medications, see which vacuum cleaner is the best to buy, learn about the latest celebrity shenanigans, and of course, find a new book to read. Through the Hawaii State Public Library's webpage and with your HSPLS library card you can download electronic books and audiobooks.
I come from the age of 8-track tapes, typewriters and the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. Being able to do serious research without leaving my comfy chair is wonderful. Being able to type something up and send it along without even reaching for white-out or a stamp is mind-boggling. Being able to download something that never gets an overdue fine, that never has the last patron's coffee stains in it and that never has multiple pieces to get lost under the car seat is brilliant
Readers Roar: Let’s hear from the kids!
"I like books. I like my parents to read to me. I like to come to the library because I like to read at night." Justice. Age 5.
"I like books. They give you information. I'm a scientist." Diesel. Age 8.
"I like to read because I like books. I like the pictures. My favorite thing about the Library is books. I like silly books the best." Aby. Age 5
"I cried when I finished the last Harry Potter book." John. Age 9.
"I like the 'Who Was..' books because I like learning about people." Amanda. Age 7.
Book Brag: What three books are hot this year? Why?
Currently, books that are made into movies or TV series are popular:
Library Lion’s Roar: ONE LAST BIG ROAR
I have been a youth librarian for about 20 years total. The following are 10 Lessons I have learned and wished I knew from the get-go:
1) Never ask a child which song they want to sing at storytime (instead of Happy Birthday, you might get "Dinah, Dinah show us your knees...").
2) Don't wear a mask (even a non-scary one) for Halloween or other storytimes unless you want to terrorize little ones.
3) Accidents happen; be understanding
4) Learn the names of the children at storytimes and programs; make the effort. It's much more effective to say, "Johnny, could you please sit down right here," than to desperately try and make pointed eye-contact with the child who needs a little direction.
5) Look for the best in children and parents and don't get into the trap of ever complaining about behaviors or annoyances -- it's all a matter of learning, and adults and children alike are all at different stages of development. Once we expect perfection rather than growth, we become judges rather than teachers.
6) Treat everyone with respect. You might be a patron's first experience with a library. You don't want it to be the last.
7) I once heard a saying that has stuck with me: Children might not remember what you teach them, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
8) Beware of glitter
10) Enjoy yourself; when you're having a good time working with children, they will have a good time also.
Janet - What a great list, Kathleen!
Library Website: www.librarieshawaii.org
Thank you, Kathleen for your terrific interview! I can't wait to visit you and the Kihei library again the next time I'm on Maui!
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Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org for an interview slot.