Semester: Spring 2023
Faculty Advisor: Laura Surtees
Field Site: Ludington Library
Field Supervisor: Laurent Mondon
Praxis Poster:Abby Fortune_Praxis Poster_Final_resized
The Children’s Librarianship independent study course provided behind-the-scenes engagement with a local library to help me gain insight into the technical practices that enhance the value of children’s libraries for its users as well as the extent to which they shape children’s civic attitudes and beliefs. Through technical exposure, observation at story time, and a series of interviews with professionals in different sectors of the field, this course clarified my personal interest in post-graduate studies in library science and established professional networks.
I worked at Bryn Mawr Town’s local public library, Ludington Library. Ludington is one of six branches in the Lower Merion Libraries system. It is the main reference library in the system and hosts a thriving children’s collection and staff. The staff consists of four members who lead development, story hours, special events, and field patron requests and services. They provide both online and in-person services and have a children’s section in the library building. Over the semester, I ostensibly became a member of the staff and performed or observed their collections development processes and programming.
The primary age group I worked with was children ages 0-5 years old. Although this group is too young to get a holistic sense of how they think about the library or what its benefits are on their development, I was able to learn more about developmental stages by observing and interacting with them. I learned that showing enthusiasm for reading, even to newborns, predicts stronger readers. Between birth to eight months, babies may begin to babble, already demonstrating the inklings of language learning and socialization. By the preschool age, about eighteen to thirty-six months, children can copy letters and shapes, imagine or retell stories, and are intensely focused on mimicking the behavior of adults around them. They learn about reading from seeing adults in their life engage with books and engaging themselves. At the library, there is a dedicated collection of board books, easy readers, and first-chapter books to progress through as a child’s reading ability advances. Additionally, passive programming like coloring, iSpy posters, library bingo, and so much more makes the library welcome for children of all ages.
Working with Ludington staff enhanced my ability to explain essential library functions and how to execute them as well as communicate with professionals on-site and in the wider field using subject-specific terminology and awareness of current challenges to the profession, produce informed book recommendations through increased knowledge about age-appropriate reading levels and content, and increased my confidence fielding patron requests and interact with young children. Finally, this work affirmed my interest in pursuing a Master’s Degree in Library Information Science.