Children’s Librarians

Profiles By: Mary Henley


Part Four Program Development and Literacy Innovation

Today, children’s librarians are responsible for many different programs offered by the Omaha Public Library.  A supervisor of children’s programming would be “in charge of the summer reading camp, story times… [which] is a period of time during the school year where they would have weekly story time, puppets, and songs” (Bialac Interview). The children’s librarian would also be responsible for the purchasing of materials, placing orders, tracking finances and the budget, and approving the incorporation of new reading materials (McMenamin Interview).  Some librarians go out into the community to speak about their services and look for any new ideas that may be integrated into their programs.

An example of creating a historical reading section can be found at the Swanson branch of the Omaha Public Library. This collection was assembled by a children’s librarian, Genevieve Price (insert hyperlink to her WCAP Interview). However, philosophical issues of library science fuel the collection. For example, librarians are often faced with the question, “Should you stock your libraries with just popular things or just the classics that few people read? How should you spend your money?” (McMenamin Interview). Luckily, for the Omaha area children, the Swanson branch decided to spend money on the historical collection.  By building the collection, the library saved parents three hundred to five hundred dollars a year. The kids would come in with their checklists and then get the books they needed for their school assignments (McMenamin Interview). In addition, many of the classic books are used for homeschooled children because their parents do not want the books to include drugs, sexual abuse, or violence; they just want a good story that they consider “moral” or “neutral” (McMenamin Interview). This collection of historical books is still on the shelves of the Swanson Library today to be enjoyed by future generations of readers, as well as scholars.

Over the years, librarians have found new ways to encourage lifelong learning and literacy. During an interview at the Swanson Library on October 30, 2010, there was an organization there promoting the use of canines in reading.  The dogs were targeted for children with behavioral problems or possible development delays. The idea is that a dog serves as someone to read to that will not judge the child for reading too slowly, errors in their pronunciation, etc.  This relationship would build confidence in children, teach them to enjoy reading, and in turn, encourage them to read more frequently. This program is another example of how children’s librarians’ daily interaction with the public helps them to find more ways to augment literacy in the community.


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Part Five Feminist Occupational Narratives

Certainly, the inequality found within stacks of books at the library does not receive the attention that it should. After completing this project, I can only begin to imagine all the untold stories and harsh realities that inform the lives of those in predominantly female occupations, such as teachers and nurses. I hope readers will continue to listen to the stories by other women posted on the WAP website. I hope that these women’s experiences will not be shushed.