Library customers occasionally ask us, “Where’s the Children’s Area Information Desk? Do you still have Children’s Librarians?” They recall the earlier incarnation of Olney Library, where we had separate Information Desks for Adult and Children’s services.
With re-opening of the new Olney branch in 2014 (how time flies!), MCPL made the decision to create one centralized Information Desk. This way, both children and adults would be able to come to one place to have their questions answered. And, because we often have two Information staff working side by side, multiple customers’ questions can be answered more efficiently.
But you may still be wondering, “How about Olney’s Children’s Librarians?” Yes, never fear, we still have (and expect always to have) Children’s Librarians! You’ll see them around the branch leading storytimes, craft programs, and other children’s activities. These staff members are specially trained in understanding children’s literacy needs and conducting children’s programs. Plus, they have a special interest in children’s books and literature.
We’d like to introduce you to our Information Desk staff, starting with our Children’s library staff. All Information Staff members are trained to answer questions about library resources for ALL ages. And we’re always ready to assist customers—in the hunt for a favorite book, tracking down an online article, learning about a new author or library program—or whatever inquiry you may have. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Heather is Olney Library’s Head of Children’s Services. She’s worked for MCPL for the past 27 years, with stints at Potomac, Quince Orchard, and Rockville Memorial, before coming to Olney when it re-opened in 2014. Prior to working for the County, Heather earned an MBA in Marketing and worked for corporations such as Marriott and AC Nielsen doing market research. But her heart wasn’t in the work, and she switched to becoming a children’s librarian, as she’s always enjoyed children’s books. In fact, she’s even written a few herself! Heather comes from a creative family. Her late father was a journalist/writer and her sister has published children’s picture books. She enjoys working at MCPL because she “learns something every day” and loves creating picture book ‘bundles.’ Heather adds, “Olney has a lot of readers in the community who need help finding good books,” which is another role she relishes.
Favorite children’s book/authors: Bark George by Jules Feiffer; CS Lewis; Madeleine L’Engle; Edward Eager
Favorite children’s program: “Act It Out,” where she leads children in performing roles in children’s books
Favorite genres/types of books: Suspense; time travel like Replay by Ken Grimwood
Favorite authors: Diana Gabaldon, Jodi Picoult, Mary Roach
Hobbies and interests: Heather is a librettist, writing lyrics for song parodies for birthdays, retirements, and special occasions. She also enjoys the challenge of the New York Times’ Sunday crossword puzzles.
Meredith is Olney Library’s longest-serving librarian, spending her entire professional career at MCPL. She started as a substitute in 1978, started working part time in 1982, and finally became a full-time Children’s Librarian I in 1987. She’s also worked at Rockville Memorial and temporarily at Twinbrook. Growing up in Olney, Meredith decided to become a librarian at age sixteen, because she liked reading and coming to the local library. She enjoys working with children because, “Every day is different… I like the community and the variety of ages we have here.” When asked what has changed about the local Olney community, she says, “It’s grown larger… though for children’s programming the number of children varies from year to year.” Olney Library values Meredith for her long-term experience, and institutional and community knowledge.
Favorite children’s authors: Keiko Kasza; Karma Wilson; Tamora Pierce
Favorite children’s books genre: Fantasy; mystery; all types of nonfiction
Favorite library program: 2-5 year old preschool storytimes
Favorite genres/authors: Mysteries by Janet Evanovich and Donna Andrews
Hobbies and interests: 4-H, especially their Maryland summer camp (which Meredith has directed for 17 years); candy making; supporting the local fire department
You may have seen Lori dashing around the branch, leading a storytime or fun crafting event, or helping with creating a book display (and she loves shelving books!) Lori started working at MCPL in 2013 as a Circulation Substitute, during which time she had the opportunity to work at almost all of MCPL’s branches. In 2014, she became an Olney Library circulation staff member, and about 2 years ago was promoted to a Children’s Library Associate. Before working at MCPL, Lori spent her career in sales for companies of all sizes. When asked why she chose libraries, Lori said, “I’ve always loved libraries, and this is a dream job for me.” As to why she enjoys working at Olney, she replied, “I like my teammates and I like the community.”
Favorite children’s book/authors: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll; The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
Favorite children’s program: Craft programs
Favorite genres: Fantasy; mystery; all types of nonfiction
Favorite book: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (she also liked the DVD adaptation). And Lori is a big Game of Thrones fan.
Hobbies and interests: “I like to garden, make up recipes, and hang out with my family. My hidden talent is organizing things. And I love animals and have 2 dogs and 2 cats.”
Valarie is Olney’s highly capable and experienced Adult Librarian I. She’s been working in libraries for the past 16 years, with her longest tenure at Loudoun County’s Public Library system (VA). There she worked for 11 years at 3 branches, ranging from a small, urban neighborhood branch to large regional branches. During that time, she also managed a small branch for a few years. Other library experience includes the Government Documents department at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins’ Medical Library. Prior to working in libraries, Valarie worked as an editor of trade journals and magazines. She’s passionate about being a librarian at Olney and says, “I like libraries with a neighborhood feel, like Olney. Our customers are so enthusiastic about books and learning.”
Favorite genres/authors: Literary fiction, historical fiction, graphic novels and nonfiction; authors include Jhumpa Lahiri, Dinaw Mengestu and Madeleine Thien.
Favorite graphic novels: Graphic novels about history, such as March by John Lewis & Nate Powell and I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached
Favorite MCPL resource: Mango Languages and Gale Courses
Favorite MCPL program: “I like the history and current event programs that MCPL does, such as Contemporary Conversations.”
Hobbies and interests: Valarie likes art, history, music, movies and nature. She’s just gotten into bird watching and said, “I successfully managed to ‘squirrel proof’ our bird feeder after many failed attempts!” Some more unusual birds she’s seen recently are the house finch, white breasted nuthatch, and Carolina chickadee.
Peggy is the newest member of Olney’s Information staff, having just started 9 months ago. As an MCPL Public Administration Associate, Peggy is an invaluable member of the team, especially during our busy Sunday hours! Before coming to MCPL, Peggy worked with the US Department of Veteran Affairs for over 30 years, and developed her expertise in health policy issues. Peggy elected to work at MCPL because, “I wanted to get out with people after retirement and this was perfect.” And she adds, “The customers and staff are terrific.”
Favorite book series: “Currently a huge fan of Louise Penny’s Gamache series, but I have too many favorites to name…. and I’m looking forward to November 2018 for the next Louise Penny.”
Favorite genres: History and mystery books
Favorite MCPL resource: Online education resources, such as newspaper databases and Gale Educator’s Reference Complete
Currently reading: Robert Kennedy: His Life by Evan Thomas
Hobbies and interests: “I have gardened for over 50 years and I also love to read and cook. My dogs are also a passion for me. I currently have 4 at home and they keep me very busy!”
Olney Library’s Information staff also includes Marilyn, Head of Adult Services; Carol, Teen/Young Adult Library Associate; and Caroline, Adult Library Associate.
Coming up in future blog posts—meet Olney’s Circulation and Management staff.