Childrens Librarians Roar!
Welcome to the May addition of Library Lions Roar. We Roar for libraries and the outstanding librarians serving youth in schools and public libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest, Kelcy Tiger!
I am the Children’s Services Librarian at the Newcastle Library, which is a part of the King County Library System here in Washington State. Yes, Tiger is my real last name – which always amazes the kids I work with! I received my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Washington in 2010 and have worked for the King County Library System for over 10 years now, first as a page shelving books, then as a circulation staff member and finally as a librarian.
Tell us what you love most about your work
I LOVE story time! Story time is the bread and butter of children’s services at my library and each week I lead four story times followed by play time for infants, young toddlers, toddlers and preschoolers. We have a big turnout for these programs, sometimes with more than 100 people in attendance, so there is a lot of energy and excitement in the room.
We also have Japanese story time and a Play and Learn program in Chinese at our branch. It’s been incredible getting to watch story time babies grow up to become toddlers and preschoolers, and then graduate on to elementary school where I get to see them when I visit our local schools to book talk or bring programs. Nothing is better than running in to a former story time kid out in the community and having them get excited to tell you what they are reading! Building those connections with kids as they grow up and helping them cultivate a love for literature is such an amazing experience.
A Mighty Roar!
Libraries provide such amazing services to their communities! As fewer and fewer standalone social programs exist to support the public, the library tends to become that social support, and that is such an important role to play within a community! To be able to offer programs that are completely inclusive, that anyone can attend is a pretty special thing. Not all families can afford summer camp but all families are welcome to come to a library sponsored event during our Summer Reading Program.
(Summer Reading Program Puppet Show)
When we bring the Pacific Science Center or the Museum of Flight to the library it allows kids who might never have the opportunity to visit those places a chance to experience them. When we have story times it not only provides a safe space for families to come and work on early literacy, social and motor skills with their children but it also creates a support system for caregivers. When we partner with groups like the YMCA or city council it strengthens the bond between community groups. Time and again I hear from caregivers how much they appreciate the types of programs and resources we provide and it is all thanks to public funding that we are able to offer these services.
One of my favorite library memories is from after story time a few years ago. A group of kids had gathered in our children’s area of the library. A little girl was holding up a book I had read in story time that day and she announced to the other children, “Thank you so much for coming to story time today, my name is Ms. Tiger!” and then proceeded to recite my entire opening story time statement nearly word for word! They were reenacting story time, from singing the songs and “reading” the stories (from memory, these were pre-readers) right down to make believe hand stamps and giving high fives at the end. It was such a special experience, getting to see the work I do at the library be impactful and spur on imagination and fun like that!
One of my other favorite memories is from when a mother told me that every time they would pass the Newcastle Library her young daughter would say, “Look, it’s Ms. Tiger’s Castle!”
A Lion’s Pride of Programs
The King County Library System has created a wonderful database called Tell Me a Story
In this database Children’s Librarians have filmed hundreds of videos demonstrating rhymes and songs for young children, and these videos compliment the story time programming we do in the library and out at outreach visits.
There are even rhymes in other languages. I love this resource! Not only has it been fun recording songs that we use in story time, but I take a look at this compilation of songs pretty regularly to get new ideas for my programs and I often refer families there if they want to relive the magic of story time at home or to give them more ideas of rhymes and songs that they can share with their children.
Readers Roar: Let’s hear from the kids!
I’ve received some pretty special letters and drawings from kids over the years – drawings from my story time kids are typically my favorites but I did receive a pretty sweet thank you letter from a child who came in for a library tour, complete with an illustration of me saying “I love books” and her saying, “books rock!”
One Last Roar
When I was in school for my undergraduate degree I decided I wanted to become a librarian, and at that time I was pretty certain that I wanted to be an adult services librarian at a public library. After interning with an amazing children’s librarian at Seattle Public and getting some wonderful mentoring from the Teen Coordinator here at KCLS and from children’s librarians that I worked with at the time, I found my passion and calling in working with kids. I feel so lucky that things have worked out the way they did! Youth services librarians are the most creative, welcoming and compassionate people you could ever hope to work with, and I’ve become so attached to the families and kids who come to my library. Working with families, you hope that the services you provide and the interactions you have will have a lasting, positive impact in their lives but I’ve also found that the opposite holds true – helping someone find that perfect book, or just the right resource to help with a school assignment, or introducing them to a new rhyme or song or book, or just getting them excited about reading and the library, those experiences have enriched my own life so much!
Thanks again for the terrific interview, Kelcy!
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. Email Janet via the Contact page on this website to set up an interview.
Note to Authors: If you’re interested in Roaring for Libraries on this blog, contact Janet.