After my husband and I sold our artisan bakery in Park Slope, Brooklyn, to lead a more balanced life, I began thinking about switching careers. While reading to my daughter for hours on end, I rediscovered the world of children’s literature. It is the world of Kevin Henkes, Tomie DePaola, Patricia Polacco and many other gifted authors and illustrators, and it plays an important role in our children’s lives. Fast forward three exhausting, stimulating and inspiring years, and I had a master’s degree in general education and literacy from Bank Street College in New York. It was time to land a first job, and a help-wanted ad for a children’s librarian in the new Gardiner Library made heart jump: this was the perfect job for me. Now I surround myself with children’s literature and meet wonderful families five days a week in our beautiful new facility. My co-workers support and encourage me daily to make the children’s area everything I want it to be. It now offers three weekday story times: for Bouncing Babies; Terrific Twos/Threes; and Great Fours to Eights and a Saturday story time with related crafts twice a month for children who are in school during the week. Our “Reading to Dogs” program is filled up through June. It’s been so popular that we’ll offer it again in the Fall. In addition, Iza Trapani and Durga Bernhard, two local authors/illustrators, will be in the library to read from their books this coming Spring. We’re expanding programming geared to our community’s older children and young adults as well. Ben Hayes has already created a website called “Rail Trail Reviews” as a forum for boys and girls to communicate with each other about the books they’re reading. As the juvenile and young adult sections get better organized, book picks and book reviews written by our tweens and teens will be posted in that area. I will also seek out their recommendations when making book purchasing decisions. The future holds many opportunities, including after-school programs, book clubs, gaming days and special events.
Because a library isn’t just a large collection of books, and because we have a beautiful, light-filled new space, our community room is now open as a play space Wednesdays and Fridays 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Much credit goes to those local parents and library patrons who brought in toys and donated rugs. Now that one of our dedicated volunteers has carefully cataloged our extensive collection of 16mm films, we’ve also started a family movie night once a month—complete with popcorn, thanks to Janine Brutvan! Check our website (www.gardinerlibrary.org) for movies, dates and times.
A library is one of those special places that build a sense of community and belonging for our children. Please come in, introduce yourself and your children, see some of the beautiful artwork our kids have done, and discover the wonderful resources and programs our fantastic new library has to offer. I look forward to meeting you soon.