ALSC Voices | February 2022

ALSC Profile

Celebrating colleagues with 25 years or more years of ALSC membership

Robin GibsonRobin Gibson
Youth Services Manager
Westerville Public Library
Westerville, Ohio

ALSC Membership: 25 years 

Where did you attend library school?

I received an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1996) and a CAS (Certificate of Advanced Study in Youth Services Librarianship) from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2012). (Yes, I attended library school twice and loved it both times!) Because of the schools I attended, I became familiar with both the Cooperative Children's Book Center (UW-Madison), where I volunteered during library school and had the opportunity to know Ginny Moore Kruse, KT Horning, and Megan Schliesman, and the Center for Children's Books (UIUC), when Deborah Stevenson was director. Both of these were huge influences on my career, and I feel very fortunate!

What was your very first library position?

My very first job in a library was during my senior year at Rhodes College in Memphis. The librarian chose my application from the work-study pile because I had neat handwriting, and I filled out order cards for books that he had chosen to purchase from different review journals. I also reshelved books in the reference section every morning at 8 am! The summer after college, I drove the “bookmobile” (a gigantic 70s station wagon that seemed to take up more than one lane of the road) for my hometown library in Cairo, Georgia. One stop was under a large oak tree in one rural community, another in the parking lot of a general store at a country crossroads. I got to know some of the regular kids and picked out books to fit their reading interests back at the library between visits. And still I had no thought of being a librarian (that came later!)

What do you love most about your current job?

I love finding different ways to connect children and families with library resources, programs, and materials. During the pandemic, we have created new services to reach our community, like personalized subscription bundles and the Story Trail. Finding the right book for the child, connecting with a child in a program, getting to see that spark of wonder, through a child’s eyes, letting them know the library is a place for them – those are things that make my day! As a manager, I love being part of a dynamic, creative, collaborative team, helping guide the direction of the department, and mentoring staff.

What's your favorite book of all time?

Pride and Prejudice. I first read it as a teen and it has survived multiple re-readings. When stressed, just reading a chapter or two is calming. The writing is familiar, structured, beautiful, intricate, classical. And I enjoy the many variations –from the Lizzie Bennett Diaries to Ibi Zoboi’s Pride and Tirzah Price’s recent Pride and Premeditation.

Who is your most favorite superhero?

I love Squirrel Girl because she is so different! I even appreciate squirrels a little differently after reading Shannon Hale’s Squirrel Girl – their lightning quick reflexes, squirrel intelligence, and amazing physical feats of climbing and leaping impossible distances.

What is the best compliment you ever received?

I love science and nature programming – I even have a lab coat and safety goggles that I received as a Christmas gift one year. When the Juno spacecraft arrived near Jupiter in July 2016, I did a “Jump to Jupiter” program that was a scale model of the universe. I wore my lab coat with NASA & Juno mission pins to provide an introduction to the activity, which began in the library meeting room, extending through the youth department, back upstairs to the adult department, and then outside the library and down the main street (Pluto was a few blocks away.) During time for questions, an elementary age girl raised her hand to ask, “Do you work for NASA?” Now, I don’t think working for NASA would necessarily be better than being a librarian – indeed, one of the fun parts of being a children’s librarian is getting to learn about and share on many different topics. I hope to instill a sense of wonder in all programs that I do – and that question let me know that I had succeeded.

Where is your favorite place in the world?

An island – every one I have been to, and so many I want to visit: Prince Edward Island (Canada) South Water Caye (Belize), St. George Island (Florida) and the archipelago off of Gothenberg (Sweden) are some of my favorites. I love water: walking along on the shore, boats and paddleboarding, the vast skies near the sea, sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, watching birds (love brown pelicans), dolphins near the shore, sea turtles . . . you get the idea!

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