by Missy Van Dusen
Being a huge Harry Potter fan, so much so that she named her cats Hermione and Ginny, a person might think that Anne Robert of the South Mandarin Branch of the Jacksonville (FL) Public Library is just your typical neighborhood librarian. What one can quickly discover is that Anne is a knowledgeable professional who takes to heart her responsibility to make a positive difference in the lives of children and teenagers.
From weekly preschool story times to a Harry Potter new book release party that drew 150 people to the branch, Robert is committed to providing creative, quality programs to local patrons. She has even taken the initiative to work with special needs patrons by studying to become a Sign Language Interpreter at Florida Community College. Her work does not go unnoticed, either. One mother of a preschool aged girl recently shared with Robert the story of her daughter playing “story time” at her home. In the girl’s reenactment she accounts for every detail, including the requirement that participants call her “Miss Anne”.
One year after declaring a psychology major at Louisiana State University (LSU), Robert had little interest in the subject. Her enthusiasm lessened even more after thinking about the required extra four years of further education to become a psychologist. She was not quite sure what she wanted to do. Taking the advice of her mother, an elementary school teacher, Robert enrolled in the library and information science graduate program at LSU and obtained her MLIS in December 2004. And as fate would have it, she started the position of children’s and teen librarian at Jacksonville in January 2005.
Robert contributes her successes and career enjoyment to not only her mother, who gave her the idea, but also to being a part of ALA from the start. She joined ALA in 2003, shortly after starting graduate school. As a reference department graduate assistant at Middleton Library at LSU, she was further encouraged by her supervisor, Melanie Sims, to join NMRT and seek out committee opportunities.
As a member of the 2004-2005 NMRT Booth Committee, 2004-2006 Social Committee, and the 3M/NMRT Social Committee, Robert discovered her excitement for bringing new librarians together to learn from and network with each other. Her biggest 3M/NMRT Social Committee accomplishment was the planning of the New Orleans Social, “Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler @ Your Library!”. As a result of this and other factors, Robert was elected the NMRT Leadership Director this past spring and will hold the position until 2009.
Robert can offer a few words of wisdom to new librarians. Signing up for the mentoring program for her first conference in Orlando was an experience with lasting impacts. Her mentor, Jennifer Cella, was a great help before, during, and after the conference. Their acquaintanceship grew to friendship and they are now regular conference roommates. Robert’s “conference confidence” has led her to attend four annuals, two midwinters, and one PLA conference. She is excited to be a part of PLA, ALSC, and YALSA, as well as serving on the ALSC/BWI Summer Reading Program Grant Committee and PLA Services to Preschool Children and Their Caregivers Committee.
For Robert, NMRT has served as a gateway to the committees and conferences mentioned above. Her involvement with committees allows her to attend conferences and make contact with other amazing librarians, while also absorbing valuable information to share with colleagues later. It may be scary at first, but once a new librarian jumps into the ocean of ALA, they experience incredible waves of new ideas and professional enhancements. Anne Robert is one who grabbed her surfboard in Jacksonville and has been riding the wave of library learning. It will be fun to see where that wave takes her next.