Starr LaTronica, ALSC President, 2013-2014
I was recently asked why I am librarian and I realized that the most accurate answer to that question is “Because I am lucky!”
I am lucky that I grew up in Iowa, (in both rural and urban areas), with access to libraries in my schools and/or my community. I am lucky to have known librarians that delivered personal attention and service which provided me with the materials that helped me grow into a proficient and appreciative reader. Those books gave me a vision of a larger world and a consciousness of time and place beyond my own, a sense of possibilities, and ultimately, of purpose. By the time I began my studies at the University of California, Berkeley, I knew that I wanted to fulfill that same mission of bringing books to children that would enrich their lives and empower them with the skills they need, as those invested adults had done for me.
I am lucky that I have been able to do work that I love, in a field which offers tremendous variety, endless evolution, and boundless satisfaction. From my days as a library page at the Albany Public Library (CA) to my much-loved positions as children’s librarian with the Berkeley Public Library (North Branch and Central) to my current post as Youth Services/Outreach Manager for the Four County Library System in Vestal, NY, I relish every day of interacting with clientele and colleagues. I am especially grateful that several of the kids I with whom I worked have reached out to let me know what a difference I made in their lives. (And two are now librarians!).
I am lucky that even prior to receiving my MLS, I was welcomed into a friendly and supportive network of children’s librarians in the Bay Area, many of whom continue to inspire me today, after over thirty years. Those mentors and friends showed me the value of belonging and contributing to professional organizations. It was through their guidance and encouragement that I became involved locally, in The Association of Children’s Librarians, and nationally, in ALSC. Membership and engagement in those associations, and later the New York Library Association afforded me the access to continuing education, professional development and a legion of like-minded colleagues that have made me the librarian I am today.
In addition to the lifelong friends I have made through these professional connections I have also had the good fortune to meet literary luminaries from the world of children’s books. I am honored that Daniel Pinkwater chose me as the namesake for his “crazy as a bat” librarian character from Looking for Bobowicz and The Artsy-Smartsy Club. Starr Lackawanna proudly proclaims “I live to amaze, astonish and astound. Those are things librarians do well.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Lucky me!
Pinkwater, Daniel. The Artsy-Smartsy Club. HarperCollins: 2005.
Pinkwater, Daniel. Looking for Bobowicz. HarperCollins: 2004.