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, Carol Edwards.
1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been involved in Youth Services for donkey’s years. I went to library school at UW-Madison and worked at the CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center) for work-study. There, I had great mentors like Ginny Kruse and K.T. Horning and did a project with Eliza Dresang for Madison Public Schools. From there I worked as a Children’s Services Librarian and gradually did the whole age range from babies to teens for various libraries: East Central Regional Library in Cambridge, MN, Buckham Memorial Library in Faribault, MN, Minneapolis Public Library, Sonoma County Library and graduated in a way to managing youth services for Douglas County Library in Castle Rock, CO and Denver Public Library. I retired from there in October 2015 and then worked with SPELL (Supporting Parents in Early Literacy through Libraries) for the Colorado State Library under an IMLS grant. Whew! That’s a long answer, but I have retired from any paid position for about a month, and am looking forward to being involved professionally without being under any particular library’s auspices.
2. Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?
I can’t even remember when I joined ALSC. Likely when I got my first real library job, but I know that they sent me a ribbon that said I’d been a member for 25 years, and that was a few years ago. Now I am feeling old!
I’ve belonged to YALSA and have been active there too, but it’s hard to combine two divisions. I was a member of the Social Responsibility Round Table when the Coretta Scott King Awards were under them, but I’ve shifted to EMIERT (Ethnic Materials Information Exchange Round Table) since CSK shifted. I have a real dedication to that award that has continually been tested by how early you have to get up to help with the Breakfast. I haven’t been near as good at that in recent years as I was early on. But I never miss the Breakfast, which for some reason feels like family. I’m not black, but white skin color never seems to be an issue.
3. How have libraries changed in your career?
How haven’t they changed? It’s been a monumental shift from being passive providers of materials to a real focus on how we can impact our users and our communities. I love this as I have always thought that it was the relationships with people that was the most rewarding. Now that sounds kind of trite, but I have watched kids grow up, I have had deep conversations, and I have seen how important our presence and service is to people when we connect to our customers.
It’s exciting to watch the new young people in our profession bring such dedication and creativity to all we do. It’s going to be a glorious future.
4. Do you prefer mountains or beach?
I love both. I would hate to choose. I grew up in Denver and went to camp as a kid and teen where we climbed the back side of Pikes Peak. When I moved away to Minnesota, that was hard for me to be away from the clear air and the exhilaration that I feel every time I head to the hills. Now that I am back in Denver, I don’t feel like I am able to get up there enough to make up for those years of drought.
On the other hand, I find that the sounds, smells and ambiance of the beach is the most relaxing thing in the world. When I worked jobs that were intense, I always wanted to take a break at the beach and just stare at the horizon.
Apparently, there are two parts of my personality that need to be fed, the part that wants to be challenged as the mountains do, and the part that wants to relax by watching the tide come in and out.
5. What was your favorite age to be? Why?
My favorite age is right now. And that seems to be true all the time, even though I can see looking back the many mistakes I made. I keep learning and so every year I feel like I am further along on the path to wisdom. That’s a very long path, and given how I keep failing miserably along the way, I have not progressed much. Still, I’d rather be me now, than any previous edition of me.
6. Do you have any pet peeves?
Oh, a couple of hundred. The one I am most passionate about now is the way we disregard the importance of story in our lives. Even libraries sometimes seem to think that their programs are where they need to focus, and I admire programs very much for how they help us create those relationships and connections. But. What people need and crave is story. Whether its a western or a cozy mystery or memoir, narrative nonfiction or even poetry and some how-to manual, there are many versions of story that we offer. I would venture to say that the most popular service we offer is the books, movies and music that people can borrow. This is evidence to me of the hunger for story and how the way we see and understand the world is a product of the quality of stories we have welcomed into our lives. Libraries share stories and support the stories being made every day in their communities. That’s absolutely the most important thing we do! And ALSC really gets it.
7. What’s your favorite landscaping… cactus? grass? rocks? something else?
I have a garden where I grow a few vegetables and some flowers. My lawn is small, but I keep it so I can walk around in it barefoot. Now that I am retired, I spend time daydreaming about what kind of garden I can have next year. I am always more ambitious than I can actually accomplish. The weeds really took over my strawberry patch this year, and the mint went crazy. I definitely have my work cut out for me next year.
8. What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
The best book I’ve read is Jason Reynolds’ As Brave as You. I know that his Ghosts has gotten a lot of recognition, but to me it doesn’t begin to compare with the characters and complexity of As Brave as You. I am still feeling connected to that family and wondering how they are doing.
It reminds me of how I felt about Cynthia Voigt’s books about the Tillermans. I want her to write the Grandma’s story but perhaps that would be for adults. How could she be so strong and wise with such loss and hurt in her life? I still would like to read that book.
9. Do you regularly read a newspaper?
That’s one of my real pleasures and part of my morning routine. I get up early to have time to read the paper, drink tea, and end up solving the Sudoku. I’ve always read the local paper –The Denver Post — because I am fascinated by what is happening locally as well as nationally and globally. I don’t think they do as great a job with global or even national, but I listen to NPR to make up for that.
Digression: I never watch TV except for sports and election news. Wasn’t the World Series phenomenal this year? Go Cubs! The Indians were worthy opponents and I see them just improving and coming back strong next year. But that game seven going 10 innings, a rain delay, errors and a hit from the first batter up; just a nail biter the whole way.
10. Do you enjoy traveling?
There is nothing better than discovering a new place, the people there and the fresh insights you get from being in their space. I love traveling. I spent two years in Botswana as a volunteer when South Africa was really suffering from apartheid. Also, we traveled to Zimbabwe just as they ended their war. Absolutely memorable experiences and treasured ones. Recently I went to Scotland and I am busy planning another trip next year. Travel? Highly recommended. Five stars. Or six.
Thanks, Carol! What a fun and memorable continuation to our monthly profile feature!
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!