Kirby works as a children’s librarian at the central San Diego Public Library and serves as the Youth Collection Development Librarian for the entire system. She is extremely active in ALA (she’s running for ALA Council this year) and she writes for the group youth services blog So-Cal Library Connection. Read on to learn all about her career path, some of her favorite programs, what she’s reading, and more!
How long have you been a librarian?
Why did you want to work with teens?
In my first full time librarian postition, with San Diego County Library, I was the Youth Services librarian which meant I served 0-18. I found I had the most fun working with the teens and the youngest kids 0-5. I think working with teens gives you an opportunity to connect with young people at a very interesting and important time in their lives. I also remember when I was a teen, I stopped hanging out at my local public library. I would go to the library at my school, and run into the library with my mom to pick up books, but I didn’t feel like it was my space anymore. And this was a big change for me because during middle school my brother and I would walk to the library every day we didn’t have sports practice to do homework, read, and hang out with our friends. I think most libraries have evolved in 15 years to recognize how important the teen population is, but I know my system has a ways to go before every library has a teen space carved out…I want to be a part of that transformation.
What steps led you to your current position?
I was working at the County and I absolutely loved the community I was working in, loved the system and believed in the library Director and his mission, but I wanted to try some new tasks and work at another location or two. It was my first full time position, and I wanted to get experience with some other aspects of librarianship. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that at the County, so when the Librarian I list opened with the City I applied. I actually forgot about the application because I became acting Branch Manager in the midst of my first summer reading, and was crazybusy. But I was called for an interview and offered the position at Central Library and I didn’t want to pass up the chance to try something new. As a child, my family and I would drive down to San Diego a couple Saturdays a month and we always visited the Central Library. It was exciting to be able to work in a library where I had such poignant and fond memories.
What has been your favorite library program/project?
The project I am working on now with parenting teens is my favorite hands down. I get to teach teen moms how to read and select materials for their babies. It is the most challenging program I have executed, but I love it and I believe it is worth all the time and energy.
Are there any upcoming programs or events you’re looking forward to?
My library is getting a new building and we are in the process of designing the two youth services wings right now. It is the first time I have been on a design and architecture project, and it’s nice to have a little input.
What is the best part about your job?
Best part of my job is hearing the kids shout “it’s story time” or “it’s the library lady” when I go and do outreach. I don’t think the library is just contained in walls and structure, so anytime I can get out into the community and share my love of reading, is a good time for me. In the storytimes I do with the teen moms, every time one of the teens says “ooh, I like this book” and asks for a copy, I can’t help but want to high five her!
Are you involved with any professional organizations?
I am an active member of ALA, PLA (Public Library Association), Black Caucus of ALA, and NMRT (New Member Round Table). I serve on committees for each, and I enjoy being active in the organization. I am also running for ALA Council this year. I’m a social butterfly and I love meeting new librarians and being a part of the profession.
Do you have any favorite online resources (either for teens or for librarians)?
I am reading blogs constantly, other librarians are so on top of it! I check in regularly with this one, pcsweeney’s blog, agnostic librarian, the unquiet librarian, and 8bitlibrary. I also like twitter to stay in touch and hear about what people are trying that is new and exciting in library land. Because I do Collection Development, I like to check out all the publishers’s sites…most have great teen zones and blogs. I particularly like Random House and Harper Collins. Goodreads is a resource I couldn’t live without. About half of the books on my to-read list, or currently sitting on my kitchen table, came from looking at other librarians YA recommendations.
What are some of your favorite books, series, authors, or genres?
It’s sooo hard to pick favorites! I absolutely LOVE these authors: Ellen Hopkins, Walter Dean Myers, Jacqueline Woodson, Rita Williams-Garcia, Angela Johnson. The Hunger Games series BLEW MY MIND! I don’t know if this is a genre (it is on my Goodreads account) but the YA death and dying books are favorites too, no matter who the author is. Hold Still, If I Stay, and Living Dead Girl were some amazing ones I read last year.
Any other favorite pop culture stuff (movies, TV, music, games)?
LOVE the preternatural stuff & LOVE Glee.
Vampires, werewolves, or zombies?
My sister and I have often had this discussion. Hands down I would want to be a vampire…oh that was totally not the question. Vampires though, for sure.