Ellen Riordan, ALSC President, 2014-2015
I was born in a small town on the coast of New Jersey at the mouth of the Manasquan Inlet where the Atlantic Ocean and the Manasquan River converge (see a picture of the inlet below). The water to the right is the river and the other side of the rocks and beyond is the ocean. As a child I was struck by the wonder of a river from a small town flowing into the vast, open ocean. Standing in that place I felt that anything was possible. It still means “home” to me. Being near water is important to me and it helps if I can’t see to the other side (In a pinch, a lake will do. One of the many reasons I love the city of Chicago).
My local library (the red building below) was a frequent stop for me. My mother always let me have any book I wanted even if it was "a little too hard for me." I am the youngest of three children and always told stories, of one kind or another, with varying levels of appreciation. That is still true today. Now I have two children, Daniel and Lillian who love to read and tell stories, of one kind or another, almost as much as I do. One of the great joys of motherhood is sharing stories together. It informs my work as a librarian with more passion and focus. I do love to read, a question that everyone asks a librarian, but confess I have very little time to actually read whole books in a timely fashion.
Currently I am a library administrator, Chief of Planning Programs and Partnerships, for the Enoch Pratt Free Library (see below) in Baltimore, Maryland. My job makes me responsible for the projects and services the library does with other agencies, nonprofits, foundations and private companies. I am also responsible for the administration of the departments for public programming and for the strategic plan of the library. It’s a big job and one that my career as a children’s librarian prepared me to do. As those of us in the field of children’s librarianship know, playing nicely with others, knowing your story and making sure things turn out the way you promised are paramount. That is what I to do every day: now the people are just bigger and so is my office.