About Kirby McCurtis, 2020 - 2021 ALSC President

Growing up, my mom was a journalist for a local newspaper and my siblings and I helped deliver the papers on the weekend; when I think back on my days hanging out in a newsroom, I figure there was no way I wasn’t going to become a voracious reader full of curiosity and committed to truth and justice. 

While I can’t say I grew up in libraries, they have always been a part of my life. My family took weekly trips to our local library, and on special weekends we went to the “big” library downtown—San Diego Public’s Central Library. When my dad went back to school as an adult, my two siblings and I would sometimes join him for study sessions at the college library reading, doing homework, and running through the stacks.

After undergrad, I served as a literacy tutor at an elementary school for AmeriCorps in St. Louis and while I quickly discovered a school teacher’s life wasn’t for me, I recognized the power of literacy. I earned my MLIS from UCLA and at graduation I met the amazing José Aponte, who was then Director at San Diego County Library (SDCL); he both inspired me and hired me for my first job as a children’s librarian.

I was mentored by and learned from wonderful librarians in San Diego both at SDCL and San Diego Public Library. I joined the team at Multnomah County Library in 2012 and got to work with the legendary (ALSC Past President) Ellen Fader as the first Youth Librarian with a Black Cultural Competency. I started Black Storytime and began to expand our youth services connections with the Black community. While I don’t work in Youth Services any longer, it is where my heart is, and my career goal is to become a Youth Services Director someday.

Being involved in ALA is something I love, and my time in ALSC has been and continues to be such a joy. I am energized by the passion ALSC members have and know that together we will create a better future for children through libraries.

 Kirby Newbery Selfie