Sharon Rawlins Roars!
We’re excited to have Sharon Rawlins with us here on Library Lions Roar!
Sharon works at the New Jersey State Library as a youth services specialist/consultant to all the youth services librarians throughout the state who work in public and school libraries.
Sharon provides them with information about grant opportunities (through the State Library and other organizations), summer reading workshops and materials, and a variety of questions and trainings relating to library services. She maintains a listserv for 600 subscribers and frequently do presentations at state and national library conferences. Since 2004, Sharon’s been very involved on a national level with the American Library Association’s (ALA) YALSA, ALSC and ASCLA divisions. She’s the ASCLA liaison to ALA’s Literacy Assembly. She chaired the 2015 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Committee and served on YALSA’s Michael L. Printz, Margaret A. Edwards, Best Books for Young Adults and ALSC’s Sibert Award committees. Sharon is also a regular book reviewer for School Library Journal and Booklist.
What do you love most about your work?
My job’s not a typical 9 – 5 job. Every day’s different and I sometimes never know what I’ll be doing. I love the opportunity to get out to all the public libraries to visit them and see what they’re doing firsthand. I love serving the librarians in the state and I get so much satisfaction being able to help them in their jobs. I love being able to recommend book titles to my library colleagues and to do presentations for/and with them, especially the school librarians, since they don’t have as much time to keep up with everything that’s being published. I also love creating booklists and writing blog posts, for the State Library’s website, or YALSA’s Hub or ones like this one – Library Lions Roar!
Janet: Thanks, Sharon 🙂
I also love partnering with other organizations like our state’s statewide afterschool organization or the NJ Department of Agriculture or the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University to share information and program ideas with them. It’s gratifying to find that we are all working on a common goal to help children and teens improve their lives through literacy and books, or by providing them with places to get healthy meals that will help them learn better.
Lions in Summer
We’re honored to have the President of the national Collaborative Summer Reading Program (CLSP) here with us on LLR! Would you tell us about this wonderful program, and give us some highlights of this summer’s program?
The national Collaborate Summer Reading Program’s theme this summer was sports and it was very popular across the country. The slogans were “On Your Mark, Get Set…Read! for the younger readers, “Get in the Game…Read” for the teens and “Exercise Your Mind. READ!” for the adults. We were lucky to have author/illustrator Matt Tavares do the children’s artwork for this summer’s program. We’ve had such well-known and beloved authors and illustrators as Dan Santat, Rafael Lopez, or Henry Cole create the children’s artwork in past years. CSLP is a consortium of states working together to provide high-quality summer reading program materials for children, teens, and adults at the lowest cost possible for their public libraries. Its members help to develop summer reading manuals full of fun, inclusive programming and promotional ideas and diverse booklists for all ages.
I attended a public library’s program this summer to see what kinds of programming they offered to kids involving sports and fitness and was excited to see so many programs offered giant games and activities that got the kids moving around.
All the states are still tallying their statistics for this summer’s program but, I’m sure as many public libraries participated this year as last year – at least 17,000, with participation from public libraries in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam and the Mariana Islands.
Author Kate DiCamillo (Raymie Nightingale, Newbery Honor Because of Winn Dixie; The Tale of Despereaux and Flora and Ulysses, both Newbery Medal winners) was the national spokesperson for CSLP for a second year this summer and participated in a wonderful PSA to help promote the summer reading program.
I’m already working on next year’s program with the slogan “Build a Better World” for all ages. Kwame Alexander (The Crossover, 2015 Newbery Award winner, Booked, etc.) will be the new National Spokesperson for 2017.
A Lion’s Pride of Programs
In my job, I’m more of a connector between the youth services librarians who work kids/teens. I’m either facilitating programs for other librarians or participating in them myself. I do a lot of presentations where I do book talking on the best books published for teens since that’s the area I love best. My experience on the award committees and all the books I’ve had to read makes me stay on top of what’s been published. I also love to attend the publishers’ book previews, whether it’s through webinars or at conferences or at their offices in NYC – it’s really great to live close to NYC so I can go there in person and hear about the wonderful new books coming out.
It’s a treat if I get the chance to learn to do something myself. I’ve participated in some makerspace events where I’ve done cupcake decorating.
My favorite annual program that I’m involved with is the Youth Services Forum where we offer programs for youth services librarians to provide ideas and resources to help them serve the kids and teens in their libraries. It’s wonderful if a family with kids can also be on the panel to share ideas with us.
A large majority of my programming involves summer reading workshops for the librarians. I try to get into the spirit of it by dressing the part. For the year that the summer reading program’s theme was “Night,” we dressed in our bathrobes for the workshops.
They also have a great time too!
I’m also asked to promote the summer reading program at open houses and kickoff programs at other libraries. I love going to these and meeting other vendors and getting my picture taken with them.
I’m the liaison from the NJ State Library to the NJ Center for the Book. The NJ Center for the Book was founded to promote books, reading, libraries and literacy. Each state exhibits at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC in the fall. I love going there and representing NJ at the table in the Pavilion of States.
A Mighty Roar!
Funding for libraries, especially school libraries, is currently under threat. Here’s a chance for you to roar about the importance of the library in your community, and in schools and communities across the US.
Having a library in a school, especially one with a certified librarian, is vital for the future of the students. There’s no substitute for a trained librarian who can teach the students how to do research and guide them in their pursuit of knowledge. I’ll never forget the librarian I had when I was in third grade. She took the time to talk to me and to find out what I liked to read. She saved books for me that she knew I’d enjoy. She instilled the love of reading and libraries in me. As I grew older, I used the library all the time to help me with my class work, for recreational reading, and for fun. I didn’t go to college with the goal to become a librarian as a career but, after trying another profession, I’m not surprised that that’s what I ended up doing.
One Last Roar
I know it’s a cliché, but I became a librarian because I love books and reading. I love the joy I feel when I discover a new author or read about something I never knew anything about. I try to read books from different genres (although fantasy’s my favorite!) to learn about different cultures and to experience people’s lives that are different from my own. I believe that as a librarian, it’s important to do not only read books but talk about them with others, whether through blogs like this, or through participating in book clubs, on social media, or just talking to colleagues about them. I’m always surprised at some of the book recommendations I get that I never would have thought I’d like until I tried them.
On the Web
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Thank you, Sharon, for your terrific interview!
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.