Each month, an ALSC member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our organization. This month, an ALSC member bravely volunteered to participate. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten questions with ALSC member, Lalitha Nataraj.
1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?
Since December 2010, I’ve been the part-time Children’s Librarian at Escondido Public Library. I’m responsible for picture book and app collection development, infant-toddler storytimes, developing our iPad early literacy program, and reference. As a member of our Children’s Department, I help plan our annual Summer Reading program.
2. How long have you been an ALA member? Why did you join ALSC?
I joined ALA in 2003 as a student member. I’ve been a member of YALSA since 2006 and a member of ALSC since 2011.
I joined ALSC to feel more connected in my new role as a children’s librarian (which I began in late 2010); prior to working with children, I was a teen services librarian for 4.5 years. I value the networking opportunities, as well as the myriad professional resources provided through my ALSC membership.
3. What do you hope to accomplish in your professional career?
There have been some exciting discussions among children’s librarians about developing standards for app collection development and programming – I would love to involved with this sort of project in a formalized fashion (hopefully through ALSC!)
Also, it’s my dream to one day serve on an ALSC selection/awards committee- for the last five years, I’ve had the privilege of serving on the following committees: YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2009-2011) and the ALA Feminist Task Force’s Amelia Bloomer Project (2012-current). Selection committees are a wonderful way to meet new friends, have critical, engaging discussions about children’s literature, and make an impact on the profession.
4. E-books or Print?
I equally love both. I feel that print is the ideal format for picture and art books. However, I consume a lot of e-books – the ability to toggle between multiple titles as well as use different devices (I read A LOT on my iPhone) is beyond wonderful. Books are books, no matter what format.
5. Do you have a “guilty pleasure” TV show?
I have several “guilty pleasure” tv shows – many of them shown on MTV and the CW. Sure, I like to say that I watch these shows for professional reasons (to be more on top of youth culture), but let’s face it…I’m really a 16 year old girl. I enjoy The Vampire Diaries (CW) and Awkward (MTV). However, I do have some mature tastes and love Game of Thrones (HBO) and Mad Men (AMC).
6. What children’s book character did you most identify with growing up?
Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time. Like Meg, I had issues with authority as a child – many of my elementary schoolteachers would be surprised to learn that I became a librarian who (very occasionally) shushes people. But as an adult, I realize that it wasn’t really a problem with authority, but more of an insatiable curiosity about the world that possessed me (and probably Meg) to act out. Also, a book featuring female scientists? Wow, that was seriously empowering for me – if I wasn’t so hopeless at math, I would’ve happily pursued a career in chemistry (my favorite subject in high school, believe it or not).
7. What is your favorite part of being a Children’s Librarian?
My favorite part of being a children’s librarian is seeing a child’s face light up the minute they walk into our library for the first time. Seriously, we have one of the most beautiful children’s rooms I’ve ever seen – I’m not just saying this because I work here. A gorgeous African safari themed mural covers our walls (we are the home of the world famous San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, after all). It’s a visual feast, coming in to work every day. More than this, though, is the personal satisfaction I feel when I connect a child with the right book. And when they come back to the library, asking for more? Yeah, you can’t beat that.
8. Favorite Caldecott book?
Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. My LIS professor, Dr. Virginia Walter (UCLA) read this to my storytelling class, and I was completely mesmerized. Even though the reader knows Kitten can’t possibly drink the moon, Henkes makes the reader believe in the animal’s mission – for a moment there, you think, “Maybe it can happen!” The story and artwork, not to mention Professor Walter’s gentle reading technique, immediately transported me back to my own childhood. It was magical.
9. Do you have any pets?
Yes, my beautiful nine-year old kitty, Sasha. She’s super mellow, and my little reading companion. If a book moves me to tears, Sashie consoles with arm licks and sympathetic purrs.
10. Any hobbies/interests?
I’m the busy mom of two very active little boys so free time (which you need to pursue a hobby) often falls by the wayside. That said, when I do have it, I love reading books, watching cheesy 80s movies, international travel, and live music. Each year we attend the Coachella Arts and Music Festival in Indio, CA. The 2012 festival was particularly memorable because I had a front row spot for Radiohead – I swear that we made eye contact with Thom Yorke and Ed O’Brien a few times. It was a 20 year old mind-blowing dream come true.
Thanks, Lalitha! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature! (Lalitha can be reached at Lnataraj@ci.escondido.ca.us)
Do you know someone who would be a good candidate for our ALSC Monthly Profile? Are YOU brave enough to answer our ten questions? Send your name and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org; we’ll see what we can do.