Children and Libraries (CAL)

Meet Sharon Verbeten – Editorial Director of Children and Libraries

Sharon Verbeten, Director of Youth Services at the Manitowoc Public Library, has been at the helm of the Children and Libraries journal as its Editorial Director since the journal’s start twenty-one years ago. Over the past two decades, Sharon has curated a quarterly publication of best practices and scholarly articles that has long been a venue for Association for Library Service to Children members to build community and share resources in youth librarianship. In a recent interview with ALSC’s CAL committee member Sarah Simpson, Sharon shared her background and what inspires her as CAL’s Editorial Director.

Photo credit: Heidi Hodges

How long have you been editing Children and Libraries?
This is my 21st year editing CAL; I started when the YALSA and ALSC publications split off into individual publications.

What is your background in editorial work?
I’ve been involved in journalism (writing and editing) for more than 30 years, starting off in local newspapers and magazines, to trade magazines and books. I edited books for a collectibles publisher in the late 1990s and am the author of The Best of Barbie (2001).

How does your role as a youth services manager inform the content of Children and Libraries?
Very much so; I’m able to be both an insider and outsider to the world of librarianship–seeing things on both a local/regional level at my job and a national level through my interactions with authors/librarians who write for CAL. I am able to see what challenges and issues librarians face, their best practices and the joys the career brings.

How has the landscape of youth librarianship changed over your tenure as CAL’s editor?
Librarians have gotten much more knowledgeable about how to reach children and families through early literacy tenets, like ECRR; we’ve also had to face more challenges of books and topics than ever before. And we’ve come to discover that being a great children’s librarian is more than just storytimes–it’s wearing many hats, including social worker, educator, STEM instructor, etc. And, as we learned during the pandemic, it’s important to be flexible and be able to pivot as needed, whether through virtual outreach, take-home kits or other ways to reach people who either cannot, or do not, come into the library.

What are some timely topics featured in CAL that you feel really “moved the needle” to make positive change in the field of youth librarianship?
The focus on equity, diversity and inclusion is always present, but it’s become especially important recently, as well as intellectual freedom and censorship (both obvious and silent). We’ve covered services to underserved populations–such as special needs children, which I feel has been especially important to me since I am the mother of a special needs child. I am also especially proud of our Couples who Collaborate column–which we’ve run for four years and also the themed issues we’ve done, celebrating the anniversaries of the Newbery and Caldecott medals; those later issues featured articles by children’s lit luminaries like KT Horning and Leonard Marcus.

CAL is a valuable resource for practitioners and scholars alike. Are there best practices or scholarly articles that have been exceptionally useful in your library career?
I love hearing about tiny successes–small programs that have really generated buzz or great interest. I have also really learned a lot from the articles written by those who have received Bechtel fellowships. Their research into thoughtful topics has really informed me on things I never knew and likely would never have the opportunity to research on my own. And as a storytime practitioner myself, I love learning new ideas for early literacy practices.

What is your favorite aspect of editing CAL?
By far, I love engaging with librarians around the nation and, sometimes, around the world. For the past 20 years, I’ve had the honor of travelling to the ALA conferences to not only meet librarians I’ve only worked with via email; I also get to listen to and/or meet my author icons–among them Jon Klassen, Jon Scieszka, Gennifer Choldenko and the iconic Judy Blume.

Many thanks to Sharon Verbeten for sharing a bit about her journey editing CAL with ALSC readers! If you are interested in contributing to CAL, please visit for more information.

Sarah Simpson, a Family Engagement and Literacy Specialist at The Ohio State University, is writing this post on behalf  of the ALSC Children & Libraries Editorial Advisory committee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *