Each month, we work to profile an ALSC member, and learn a little about their professional life as well as 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, Mary Landrum.
1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?
I am a children’s librarian at the Lexington Public Library. I have been doing this for nine years. I’ve worn a lot of hats over these years. I have done storytime for babies; a Magic School Bus science program for early elementary students; led a book club for fifth-graders at a school in a low-income neighborhood, and many other programs. I also weed and replace the collections at the branches I’ve worked at, and suggest new materials to our selector.
2. Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?
I joined ALSC so I can learn from colleagues around the country. I don’t just get great ideas from ALSC members; I get encouragement and comfort from knowing so many people are working on behalf of kids. I also belong to PLA and EMIERT.
3. Is it possible to live in Lexington, Kentucky and not love horses? Do you love horses?
I’m not horse-crazy like some people in Lexington. I don’t ride, which is a question I get a lot when I travel out of state. I’ve never been to the Kentucky Derby, either, which is another question I get a lot. For one thing, it’s in Louisville. It’s also crowded and expensive. I prefer to watch on TV with friends or family. On a library-related note, some of our branches subscribe to Young Rider magazine to meet the needs of our horse-loving customers.
4. What is your favorite thing about living and working in Kentucky?
Well, I grew up here, so my family is my favorite thing. But I lived out of state for many years before returning, and I’ve come to love the warmth and kindness of our residents. We often do talk to strangers here! Lexington is a college town where everyone knows everyone, and it’s always fun to discover new community connections. I also love our ethnic and racial diversity, which really has grown since I was in high school 20+ years ago. People often don’t realize that Kentucky and other Southern states have large Muslim, Hispanic, or Asian populations, but we do.
5. Do you prefer to read newspapers in paper or online?
Online, because it’s so easy to share articles via email and social media.
6. If you hadn’t chosen to be a librarian, what would be your profession?
I probably would be a preschool or kindergarten teacher. I love working on early literacy programs and projects. I incorporate Every Child Ready to Read practices into my storytimes. I also create an early literacy calendar that helps parents use the practices at home or on the go. I believe in sharing early literacy information with marginalized populations so their kids can enter school on a level playing field with their middle-class peers. For example, I share the early literacy calendar with a program that mentors teen moms.
7. Do you watch TV? What is your favorite show of all time?
I do watch TV. I’m a huge fan of Parks and Recreation. I think Ron and Leslie would like libraries a lot more if they knew my colleagues here in Lexington! I also love Doctor Who. David Tennant is my favorite Doctor, but I can’t wait for Jodie Whittaker to take the controls of the TARDIS.
8. What is the best thing about your library?
Our library system is really starting to think outside the box about library services. For example, we have a podcast called “Checked Out” that brings book discussions to people who don’t have a chance to get to a book club in person. I love working at my branch because our staff is dedicated to serving marginalized patrons. We are in a low-income neighborhood, where people really depend on libraries for fax services, Internet access, and information needs. We also serve kids a hot lunch during the summer to combat food insecurity in our neighborhood. Many of our patrons are Latino immigrants and their children. The parents don’t always have the English skills to help children with their homework, so we run a Homework Help program after school to help children achieve academic success. More important in my view, these kids know that we care about them.
9. How do you advocate for children and libraries?
I regularly participate in our state library association’s Library Legislative Days. One day a year, we visit with our legislators to urge them to support libraries. I always speak about the benefits libraries have for children and families. I talk about how storytimes impart early literacy information that prepares children to succeed in school. I add that we help children succeed in school because of homework help programs, information resources, and internet access to the many online learning platforms our public schools use. I’ve also called my representatives in Washington, D.C. to urge them to support IMLS and LSTA funding.
10. What is the best compliment you ever received?
When kids tell me they want to be a librarian like me when they grow up.
Thanks, Mary! What a great continuation to our monthly member 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!