ALSC Member Profile

ALSC Member Profile — Brian E. Wilson

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. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten questions with ALSC member, Brian E. Wilson:

What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?  

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Photo Credit: Sun-Times Media

I have been working as a Children’s Librarian for 17 years.  I worked at the Oak Lawn Public Library in Oak Lawn, IL from 1995 to 2001, and have been at the Evanston Public Library in Evanston, IL since October, 2001.  I order the children’s picture books, easy readers, AV, non-fiction, and fiction up to Grade 5. Storytimes and children’s reference work are also major parts of my job.

Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?

I love that ALSC brings together professionals who share a common goal:  to turn children into lifelong readers and library users.  Hearing success stories and new program ideas has been beneficial for me.  Also, as you face challenges, it is good to know that you are not alone, that others in the field can offer advice or lend an ear.  I do not belong to any other divisions or roundtables, but hope to rectify that.  I have been an AV reviewer for Booklist for over 10 years.  I also served on the Monarch Award (the Illinois Children’s Choice Award for K through 3rd) committee, and am currently serving on the Bluestem Award (the Illinois Children’s Choice Award for 3rd to 5th graders) steering committee in the area of Publicity.

What are you proudest of having accomplished in your professional career?

Now that I’ve been working at one place for so long, it has been really cool seeing children I read to as babies and toddlers coming in and checking out armloads of library materials as tweens and teens. When parents tell me that thanks to the library their kids have become excellent readers, I feel very proud of being part of that success.  Also, our storytelling team (I work with a bunch of great programmers) was chosen by the readers of Make It Better! magazine as the area’s finest, and that gave me a lift.  I like showing kids that books can be fun, and that you can have a great time reading.

What children’s book characters would you most like to meet?

Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a rumpus with the Wild Things?

What’s the last song you sang out loud?

The answer most likely will always be “Jenny Works with One Hammer” (aka “Johnny Works with One Hammer”).  I always end storytime with that tune.  When I’m not at work it’s probably some ’80s new wave song that I can sing like a robot.

Favorite Caldecott book? 

First on the Newbery (winner and honor) end, I want to give a shout out to Louis Sachar’s Holes, Christopher Paul Curtis’ The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963, Nancy Farmer’s The House of the Scorpion, and E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  Regarding the Caldecott, I love the Wild Things, Peter’s snowy walk, Kitten longing to drink the moon, and David Wiesner’s various mind-bending meta adventures, but, for personal reasons, I just love Eric Rohmann’s My Friend Rabbit.  Everytime I read that wondrous animal adventure, I discover something new.  It’s a book that constantly surprises me.  And I love that the hippo sleeps during the entire thing.

What makes you laugh?

The element of surprise.  I like jokes in books, in movies and plays, and on TV shows that catch me completely off-guard.  For example, in the 2013 picture book Count the Monkeys (written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kevin Cornell), in which a counting adventure goes very wrong, I love the fact that the 8 lumberjacks never leave.  We want them to so we count the monkeys, but these lumberjacks not only keep thwarting our plans, but invite another lumberjack to join them!  Mo Willems, Dav Pilkey, Keiko Kasza, Peter Brown, Jan Thomas, and many other children’s book writers have gift for absurd surprises and I love them for it.  It’s my very favorite type of humor.

Do you have a favorite “guilty pleasure” TV show?

Probably Bob’s Burgers, an animated series about an unlucky guy trying to run a successful burger shop and his madcap but loving family.  The vocal work is great and the show has really come into its own in its 3rd season.  What’s strange though is I have received the most ribbing from people for liking Gilmore Girls (although I certainly have friends and co-workers who love the show, too).  What’s not to love about that show’s snappy, screwball dialogue and Lauren Graham’s brilliant, nuanced performance as a coffee addicted inn owner who just happens to be the coolest mother in the world?

What is your dream vacation?

So many places…Scotland, Ireland, Tokyo.  The biggest dream:  I have always wanted to see Australia and New Zealand. However, the thought of being on a plane for so many hours keeps the dream in my head instead of becoming a reality.

Legos or Lincoln Logs?

A very tough question, and that’s why I answered it last…but flipping a coin here…Legos!!!!


Thanks, Brian! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature! You can contact Brian at, or check out his blog at Mr. Brian’s Picture Book Picks.

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; we’ll see what we can do.


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