It’s another Friday in February, so it’s time to meet another amazing librarian on Bookstagram! This week I’m chatting with Loree from @tiny.librarian.reading!
Loree is a library director in a small town library, and I absolutely seeing her library-related Insta stories and all the gorgeous book shots on her feed! Check out our fun, bookish conversation below 🡣
What made you decide to start a bookstagram?
I had started to follow a few bookstagrammers from my personal account and towards the end of 2018 I decided I wanted to do more tracking of my reading habits and thought it would be fun to write more actual reviews. I was a little nervous to start posting all my reviews on my personal account in case all my friends didn’t want to see them, so I decided to start a separate account. I started my account thinking it would just be my place to post reviews and what I was reading, didn’t realize how much I would gain from the friends and community!
What is your first book-related memory, and/or your favorite books as a kid?
I was always a reader as a child, but my memories of really reading a lot on my own start around 4th and 5th grade. At home my mom would make me do my chores before I opened a book each day otherwise she knew they wouldn’t get done. At school I got in trouble a few times for reading in my lap during lessons. The biggest memory though was in 3rd or 4th grade, my elementary school burned down when I was in 2nd grade so instead of walking the three blocks each day I had to ride the bus across town. A few times on the way home from school I almost missed getting off at my stop because I was so absorbed in my reading. My friends would have to remind me to get off the bus!
What inspired you to become a librarian, or what did your journey to librarianship look like?
I have a bachelors degree in Elementary Education and taught for a few years. Then we moved so that my husband could start a graduate assistant position for his masters degree. The town that we moved to was a college town with only two elementary schools and wasn’t in the best location for commuting. When there were no teaching positions available that year I found part time work and started substituting. A month or two into the first semester there I found out the university had a Library Science program that was for educators to be certified for school libraries. I intended to continue teaching at that point and realized how much I might want to work in school libraries. My mom was an aide in my elementary library for almost 20 years so I spent a lot of time there with her and always loved it. I started the program our second semester there and enjoyed every minute of it! Each class was something that I was interested in and I felt like I had really found what I wanted to do.
When my husband finished his Master’s degree, and a few months after our first child was born, we decided to move back to his rural home town to be near family. The public library in town had posted that both their Director and Assistant would be retiring right when we were moving back. Even though I was very nervous to apply since I wasn’t finished with my degree (and it was geared towards school libraries), I went for it! I was offered the position and started just a few weeks after we moved home.
You’re a library director (how freaking cool is that??)! What are your favorite things about the job, and what made you decide to become a director?
I love being the library director! Like I mentioned I was very nervous that I wouldn’t know how to handle a public library since a lot of my course work had focused on collaboration with classroom teachers, but overall the running of a library can be much the same. Now that I have been in this position for almost 9 years I’ve realized that I love public libraries and at this time I don’t intend to go back to a school position. Before going further, I do want to note that my public library is in a small rural town of about 1,600 people, it is much different than larger public libraries! My favorite things about my specific director position are that I am able to interact with patrons, do readers advisory, etc. and I’m also the one that gets to choose/order all the books and plan all the events/programs. I really do pretty much everything here! Beyond the favorite things I mentioned I also meet with our library board once a month to share statistics and take care of library business, I deal with all the payroll and financial portions of the library, and take care of as much of the technology aspects that I can. Our library is part of a wonderful regional library system so they are invaluable when it comes to help with technology, library trainings, and any other things that come up.
What’s your favorite (or least favorite) librarian stereotype that you’ve heard?
I’m not sure if I have a favorite stereotype, but of course the one that I’ve heard and encountered the most is that libraries are quiet, serious places! We are anything but quiet and serious! We’ve had dogs in the library, a mini-golf program, paper airplane challenges and more. Another one that has come up is that we (the librarians) have read everything in the library. While I am a huge reader of course, it is not at all possible for me to have read every book that we have on the shelves.
What’s your favorite library you’ve ever seen, visited, or worked at?
I hope to visit MANY more libraries in the future, I’ve honestly only visited a few outside of my general region. We have a new Advanced Learning Library that opened a year or two ago and it is beautiful and inspiring and I wish I could spend more time there. Someday I would love to visit the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress, those would be my bucket list places to see!
While I know you 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?
As a little backstory to this answer, when I started at my library we did not have a Young Adult section. I started purchasing what I could to build up the collection, but of course I couldn’t do it all at once. At one point I ordered the first two books of the Selection Series by Kiera Cass to add to our shelves. I read them myself and thought they were fun so I wanted to make sure to get the rest of the series as soon as I could. I had a teen come in one day looking for something new to read and she didn’t really have any ideas of what she wanted so I suggested the first book in that series to her. She loved it and came back for the second quickly. We would spend a few minutes each time she came in talking about the books and what we though of them, and soon the 3rd and 4th books arrived in an order I placed. We both read them fast and continued our discussions. I knew there was one more book coming out, though it had not been published yet. A few weeks later she stopped in one day with her dad because she wanted to give me something. She had taken her own money on the day the 5th book was published to buy a copy, she read it that night and then brought it the next day to donate to the library! She wrote a very sweet note about how much it meant to hear that I took the time to share the series with her and spend time talking to her about the books. It really made me realize how important connections with patrons, and especially teen patrons, can be! She had a positive place to visit and someone that was interested in the same things and that meant a lot to her.
What’s that one (or a few) book(s) you always recommend to patrons, friends, and/or family, and why?
My answer to this question changes over the years honestly! I read new books that I end up feeling like I want to recommend more than books I used to suggest. A few of my favorites though are The Giver by Lois Lowry, anything by Jodi Picoult (though I start by suggesting Small Great Things and Plain Truth), and most recently The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah! When doing book recommendations I fall back on my librarian training and always ask what genres the person is interested in, what they have loved in the past, or what they are in the mood for and recommend based on their answers. Books that I have loved and recommend may not fit what they are looking for so it wouldn’t be good for me to suggest them!
What do you want bookstagrammers/the general public to know about libraries and librarianship?
I think mostly that libraries are thriving places that are open to everyone, without any stipulations. We want everyone to feel welcome in our libraries and we want to offer as many services as we can to help our communities. We support learning and ideas of every kind and we love sharing our love of books! If you are a supporter of libraries, or want to support them more, all you need to do is visit them as often as possible, and check out materials (in person or online resources!), or use the services available. Showing that our libraries are being used by the public is the biggest way for us to spread the love of libraries and keep them around for a long time.
Do you have any advice for those looking to become a librarian or work in libraries?
Get started by volunteering! Visit a few local branches to you and ask about volunteer opportunities, try a few different locations and job tasks. This will help you determine if you could really see yourself working there. Find out if you prefer helping with youth or adult aspects, or if you prefer to do behind the scenes work like working with the books, shelving, etc. Each library system has their own way of working with volunteers so you may have to spend time doing certain tasks before they will allow you to work in other areas. As you are there, get to know the staff and talk with them about how they got started in libraries and what their favorite parts are. Be sure that you are being an advocate for libraries whenever you can!
Besides reading and being in libraries (;)) what do you love doing in your free time?
I love to bake sweet treats of most any kind (though I do not like the clean-up process!) and of course spending time with my husband and two kids. They are both readers already at 6 and 9 years old, so I love sharing new books with them, reading with them, and experiencing the thrill of a good book together.
I know this is probably an impossible question BUT I’m still going to ask you: (to you), what makes a great book/read?
For me, a good book is one that allows me to fully escape into the world the author has created. Those books where I can read and not hear anything going on around me (even the tv and kids playing right next to me!), where I feel like when I look up I have to remind myself where I am and that I’m not in the book world anymore. Anything where I feel as if I know the character and if I were to see them in person and talk to them that I would be able to start up a conversation! These are always the ones that stick with me for a long time and that I love to point out when people ask.
And finally, what are you currently reading?!
I have just this year started having a physical book and an audio book going at the same time. My physical book is Unwind by Neal Shusterman (I loved reading the Arc of a Scythe series last month!) and my audio book is A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler.
Loree is such an incredible library advocate (and librarian), and her taste in books is marvelous! Do yourself a favor and follow her here on Instagram!
Until next time…