Meet the Librarians: @BookLoaner & @BooksLibrariesAlsoCats

Y’all, today we’ve got ourselves a twofer for today’s #MeettheLibrarian series: coworkers Ari from @BooksLibrariesAlsoCats and Hallie from @BookLoaner!

Like me, both Ari and Hallie are teen librarians (and they work together!!!)- even funnier, Hallie and I are on a committee together (and didn’t even notice bahaha). It really is invigorating to see all the wonderful work they do for teens in their community, and here’s what these two amazing people had to say about books, libraries, and bookstagram!


Why did you both decide to start bookstagrams?

Hallie

I started mine before I even knew about bookstagram because I just loved chronicling what I was reading and being able to look back at pictures of the books. And then I loved that bookstagram was such a cool way to help other people discover books!

Ari

I was relatively new to being a librarian when I first started following bookstagram accounts, and I loved that it was a creative, fun, and visual way to support authors & books, and engaging the the book community. At first I didn’t feel like I could start a bookstagram but my wonderful friend Hallie (@bookloaner) was a huge source of inspiration who encouraged me to go for it and find ways to make my bookstagram my own.

I imagine my life as being accompanied by a pretty cool movie soundtrack so I gotta ask: if your lives were movies and had soundtracks, what would your entrance songs be?

Hallie

Wow, I really wish life actually had a movie soundtrack! I think I’ll go with “I Forgot That You Existed” by Taylor Swift, I love the opening music and vibe of the song!

Ari

Definitely the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme song! Buffy has been my #1 fandom since my early teen years and still inspires me today. I will always associate the theme song with girls kicking butt, taking up space, and claiming power.

What are your first book-related memories, and/or your favorite books as kids?

Hallie

My mom is also a reader, so books and libraries have always been part of my life. My mom always made a big deal out of buying me a book whenever I found one that I was interested in. She spent so much time reading to me before I could read to myself; for the longest time, I thought my mom was writing the books for me and only when I went to school did I realize that other kids also read the same books! My favorite books as a kid were The Baby-Sitters Club series, the Arthur series, and anything about ballet!

Ari

As a kid, I loved series like Junie B. Jones, The Magic Tree House, The Boxcar Children, Amelia’s Notebook! When I was a kid, my mom read books of all sorts aloud to me, not just picture books, and I think for me that really solidified the idea that you don’t have to be a certain age to read something. I remember discovering some YA books in about 4th or 5th grade and from that point, I never put them down.

[blogger’s note: YO ARI I LOVED AMELIA’S NOTEBOOK AND I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT IT THANK YOUUUUUU FOR THE REMINDER!]

What inspired you both to become librarians, or what did your journeys to librarianship look like?

Hallie

I’ve wanted to be a librarian for as long as I can remember. Originally, I thought librarians just got to read all day and that sounded like a perfect job for me! I started volunteering at the public library in high school, and realized that it’s really a public service job. I loved that the library is a place where everyone can get free help, resources, and just enjoy a safe space. Since I volunteered at a super small library, I had the chance to learn all kinds of behind-the-scenes roles and even plan some programs. I ended up working there for all my summers during college and did an internship there. I got my undergrad degree in history and immediately went to library school. I’m a teen services librarian now, but my plan had always been to be an adult services librarian. I’m forever grateful that a teen services position opened up in my current library and helped me find the job I was meant for! 

Ari

I grew up loving books and libraries, but the idea of being a librarian really started to take shape in high school, when I got a job working as a library page. Spending time with librarians made me realize that it was empowering field centered on literacy, access, and so much more. During this time, I also learned about how public libraries can act as safe spaces for so many marginalized groups–queer folks, people living in poverty, those experiencing homelessness, mental illness, or addiction–and I realized that was something I wanted to be a part of.

[another blogger’s note: Hallie, I was a history major too THIS IS WEIRD]

You both are Teen Services librarians (like me!)- what are your favorite parts about working with teens?!

Hallie

I love working with teens because they’re so genuine, silly, and have such incredible ideas! I run a Teen Advisory Board (TAB) and teen book clubs and I love getting to know teens over the course of several meetings. My favorite thing is when a shy teen (like I used to be) finally feels comfortable being themselves at the library and makes a funny joke or sings a song in a silly voice. My favorite thing is really just seeing my library teens create their own inclusive community at the library because they know it’s a safe space for them. 

Ari

Talking to teens genuinely inspires me and gives me so much hope! They’re so engaged in the world and thinking critically about everything around them. I just love seeing them grow up & decide what kind of person they want to be and figure out how they fit into the world. I love seeing a teen’s face light up when I tell them about a book that they can see themselves in, or when they find out about all that they can get out of the library. Also, teens are just so silly and funny and sweet!

What are your favorite (or least favorite) librarian stereotypes that you’ve heard?

Hallie

My least favorite stereotype is that librarians only like physical copies of books. I’m always sad when I can tell patrons want an audiobook or ebook version of something and they feel bad because they think librarians only want them to read “real” books. I’m always happy to help someone find any type of book in any format!

Ari

Like most librarians, I hate the stereotypes of librarians shushing people, or being meek/quiet, or that we get to sit around and read all day. There are so many loud, radical people within this field, and I think most librarians are far too busy working to provide resources, equal access, and services to our communities to read all day. But I’ll be honest and say that I definitely fit the cat lady librarian stereotype.

[yet another blogger’s note: this this ALL OF THIS!]

What are your favorite libraries you’ve ever seen, visited, or worked at?

Hallie

I briefly visited the main New York Public Library years ago and really want to go back and spend more time there. But my favorite library of all time is definitely my tiny little childhood library that I spent so much time in as a kid; I just love how it’s the center of my small town and does so much with the tiny space it has. 

Ari

I recently visited the Los Angeles Public Library and it was so cool to see all the different rooms and collections there! I left with so many new, fresh ideas for my library. But the first library I worked at as a teen will always have a special place in my heart.

What are your favorite funny library stories (yes, I know you both have to have at least one)?

Hallie

So my library only has one spot where you can eat food but everyone is always trying to sneak it in other parts of the library. I just always crack up at all the creative ways that teens try to hide food. Chip bags in shoes, full size pizza boxes wrapped in coats, and the most delicious smelling chicken tenders tossed into a trash bag. I always have a good laugh when I realize that they think they’re being so sneaky. 

Ari

The funniest moments are when people think being the “teen librarian” means I am a teen who is a librarian! I am in my twenties and people often think I’m a teenager still, and it always cracks me up when people ask if this is my after school job. Sometimes actual teens ask where I go to high school. 

While I know you both probably have countless funny or weird library stories, I’m sure you also have some heartwarming ones too! Have you had any moments that have warmed your heart and made it all seem worth it?

Hallie

One of my favorite moments that I think about when I have a tough day involves one of the first teens I ever met at my job. This teen came to so many of my events and would tell me random stories about her week, family, and school while she helped me clean up. She would always be the last one to leave and she left a big hole in our group once she graduated. She came back a few months after graduating because she wanted to tell me about an internship she got. She said she wanted to tell me because I always listened to her and never told her she “talked too much.” She said she always appreciated that I would just listen to her. This story always reminds me why I want to work with teens and how important it is just to let them be themselves.

Ari

Recently one of the libraries I work at opened our brand-new three-story state of the art building. Our library had been closed for a YEAR while we awaited construction to complete, and before that, it had taken the community literal years to secure the funding and support for this project to replace the very old, small, and run-down library. During our opening day a few months ago, so many patrons were in happy tears over the sight of the new library finally open. Every teen I spoke with was overwhelmed with the idea of a teen space just for them. It made all of the work we put in so worth it, and that day will always be one of the most special days of my career.

What are the book(s) you always recommend to patrons, friends, and/or family, and why?

Hallie

Giving recommendations and helping readers find a perfect book is one of my favorite parts of the job! Here’s some of my go-to recommendations:

  • The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James: this is a super suspenseful sci-fi about a girl all alone on a spaceship bound for another planet. This is perfect when you need something that you won’t be able to put down.
  • Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson: I recommend this one as a readalike for anyone who loved Starr’s voice in The Hate U Give.
  • Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali: first recommendation for any contemporary reader. It touches on identity, healing, family relationships, and is such an accurate depiction of what it’s like to be a teen. It’s a total must read!

Ari

I often recommend We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson and The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan because both use SFF/magical elements yet are the most accurate portrayals of mental illness that I’ve ever read.

I also recommend Internment by Samira Ahmed, which deals with Islamophobia and is something everyone should read. A few other authors I always recommend: Maurene Goo, Akemi Dawn Bowman, Rachel Lynn Solomon, Sandhya Menon, Mason Deaver, and Jason Reynolds.

What do you want bookstagrammers/the general public to know about libraries and librarianship?

Hallie

I want people to know that librarians want to help you! We want you to come to our service desks and ask for book recommendations or directions to the food bank or help printing a resume. We are here to help you and we’re so much more than just books! 

Ari

That librarianship isn’t just shushing people and quietly reading all day. Libraries can be radical places, and librarians fight everyday for equal access, freedom of information, and to provide equitable services to all. Books are a huge part of libraries, but we also do so much beyond that: digital literacy classes, free educational & job seeking resources, entertainment services, and even some social services. I want people to know that libraries are for everyone and that we never want anyone to be afraid to come to the library. 

Do you have any advice for those looking to become a librarian or work in libraries?

Hallie

Try to volunteer in different library settings if you’re unsure where you want to work. A public librarian has a very different job from an academic librarian. It’s a great chance to get your feet wet and figure out what you’re passionate about. You’ll be so much happier later on if you’ve taken time to find the right fit. Also, find a buddy who can help you navigate the library world because it’s so much easier with someone else to lean on! Even just participating in library twitter can help you find support and help.

Ari

Librarianship can be very mentally & emotionally taxing, so be ready to take care of your mental health. Librarianship is a huge umbrella that covers a lot of different careers, so take the time to explore all the different areas (public, academic, technical, cataloging, corporate, archival, museumship, etc.). Some of my best ideas and information have come from other librarians, so invest in professional development and building connections/relationships with others in the field.

Besides reading and being in libraries (;)) what do y’all love doing in your free time?

Hallie

I love crafting, thrifting, and watching reality TV. I love decompressing after a long work week and just watching something that has absolutely nothing to do with work or books.

Ari

I love hiking, exploring the outdoors, petting animals, and crafting. I’m also a wannabe cheese-connoisseur so I love visiting new creameries to try different cheeses! 

I know this is probably an impossible question BUT I’m still going to ask you: (to both of you), what makes a great book/read?

Hallie

Wow, that’s so hard! I firmly believe that every reader has at least one special book that will be “great” to you no matter what. My own brand of good books are ones where I can connect with a character and totally forget that I’m reading a book. I can have absolutely nothing in common with the character, but if the author has created a dynamic and given me a window into their world then I’m totally hooked. I love that moment when you’re reading and you stop and think “wow, I never knew anyone else ever felt like that.”

Ari

For me, robust & well-developed characters and strong, believable dialogue are the components that have the biggest impact. I always prefer #OwnVoices books with diverse characters. Growing up as a queer, mixed race, and Jewish teen, I rarely found books that reflected any of those identities, so I usually love any YA book featuring those experiences. The best books are the ones that I’m sad about finishing, and that stick with me long after I read them.

And finally, what are you both currently reading?!

Hallie

I’m currently reading Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams and listening to All Eyes On Us by Kit Frick. I’m always in the middle of several books at once! 

Ari

I’m currently reading What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel, and listening to The Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson.


Y’all, Ari and Hallie are truly such gems in the bookstagram community and their enthusiasm for their jobs and for teens is seriously infectious! Follow all the cool things they’re doing and reading by following Ari on bookstagram here and Hallie on bookstagram here! They also both have beautiful blogs so check out Hallie’s here and Ari’s here!

Until next time ♥

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