Sean Garvey, Local History Librarian
Get To Know…Sean Garvey, Local History Librarian Sean Garvey has been the library’s local history librarian since 2007, assisting many patrons with local history questions and conducting research for them. He is also a reference librarian who helps customers get the information they need, selects new materials for the library’s collection and plans library events and programs. The Local History Room is open Mondays 2-4 p.m., Wednesdays 10 a.m.–noon, Saturdays 1-3 p.m. and by appointment.
1. Why is it important for the library to promote local history? How do people most often use the Local History Room?
We are fortunate to have a dedicated space in the Tigard Public Library for a local history collection. Part of our mission is to foster lifelong learning and to provide an array of programs and services that encourage the development of well-rounded citizens. I can’t think of a more useful discipline than an appreciation for local history, no matter where you live.
The most frequent questions we get are people seeking obituaries or trying to track down people they went to school with in Tigard through the Tigard High yearbooks. We have created simple ways for the public to find a local obituary online for a late friend or family member or to locate old newspaper articles about people or events in Tigard.
2. Since you became the local history librarian, what improvements have you made to the Local History Room? What kind of resources would be necessary to better serve the public?
A few years ago the library began sharing some of our historic photograph and oral history collections with the public online. The City of Tigard’s Geographic Information System (GIS) team also helped us create an online, photographic “story map” of the people, places and events that have historically defined Tigard. That allows people to do research online.
One of the things we are looking into is digitizing our historic copies of the Tigard Times and Tigard Sentinel and that costs money. We also need to find out if we can get permission from the owner of The Tigard Times to digitize them. Many other libraries in the state have digitized their historic newspapers.
3. What do you say to people who say “why do we need to devote time and space to local history? Why should we care about something that happened 100 years ago?”
I recently came across a 2007 essay written by historian Arthur Schlesinger where he compared our nation’s history to an individual’s memory: He wrote that “as persons deprived of memory become disoriented and lost, not knowing where they have been and where they are going, so a nation denied a conception of the past will be disabled in dealing with its present and its future.” I think this concept of history and memory can be applied anywhere—to the City of Tigard, Washington County or the State of Oregon.
4. What is the most interesting local history question you’ve gotten?
One of the more interesting local history questions we’ve received inquired about a huge white mansion located on Bull Mountain. After some digging in our files, I came across some old newspaper articles about “Homewood,” a 14,000 square-foot mansion (the same size as the Tigard Library) designed in the 1920s by famed Northwest architect A.E. Doyle, whose many works are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Homewood was built for Leroy Fields, president of the Fields Motor Car Company in Portland. For over 50 years the mansion’s connection to Doyle was lost because the architect never left a trail in his personal papers or records. It was only when current owners discovered original blueprints in the house that they were able to connect the design to Doyle.
5. If you could tell people about one aspect of your job that they probably don’t know that you do, what would it be? Why is it important?
For the past two summers I have led small groups on interpretive walking tours of Tigard’s Main Street. On the tours I explain Main Street’s origins and development, as well as the people, businesses and events that occurred there over the past century. Main Street is the historic heart of Tigard, and its history explains much about why Tigard has long been a popular, growing location for a place to call home.
LISA ELLIOTT, YOUNG ADULT LIBRARIAN
Get To Know… Lisa Elliott—Young Adult Librarian
Lisa has headed the Library’s Young Adult program for 10 years. You may find her assisting Muggles or making magic with the Teen Library Council, who are the inspiration for many of the teen programs.
Q: Why is it important for the library to offer programs for teens?
For library programs, we consider teens to be young people in grades 6-12. This is quite a wide age range that includes 10 to18-year-olds, so of course they will have different needs depending on where they fall in that spectrum. We serve them in diverse ways.
However, the most valuable aspect of library programs for folks this age is the opportunity to experience some autonomy in a safe space. They actually have a biological, physical need for a place where they can be themselves, pursue their interests without judgment and interact with their peers. Their brains need this kind of exploration in order to become independent adults. (I swear I’m not making this up. It’s science.) So we plan programs that offer more guidance for younger teens and are more self-directed for older teens. We cater to their interests, ask for their ideas and try as much as possible to convey that this is their library, and they should feel empowered within it as they become informed citizens of the world.
Q: How do you attract teens to the Library? What have been some of the most popular teen programs?
The strongest magnet for teens is other teens. If their friends are doing something, they want to do it, too. So while I write brochures, make outreach visits to school and post on social media, I rely on teen word-of-mouth to bring in the crowds. Anything from the wizarding world of Harry Potter or the long ago and far away world of Star Wars is a guaranteed hit. College prep workshops are also popular, as are gaming tournaments. And Teen Library Council has been shaping the teen program at this library for more than a decade.
Q: Please share a story about one memorable experience you’ve had while working with teens? Why was it memorable?
Last spring, Teen Library Council asked for an opportunity to read to little kids. We worked together to plan a Día de los Niños event, inviting kids to listen to some recently published picture books with diverse characters and earn stamps in a “passport” by visiting several activity stations. The teens worked hard to get the program ready, but due to some weird alchemy that we couldn’t explain, only one kid showed up. (Our weekend programs usually draw in dozens of kiddos and their families.).
What they might have seen as a disaster, they turned into an opportunity, and five teens gave this one child their complete focus and attention. They read her books, had deep conversations with her about her life and her family, talked with her about diversity, and during the sweetest few minutes of my career, spontaneously sang her lullabies in the first languages of their parents and grandparents, including Korean and French. That child left with five new heroes, and so did I.
Q: If you could tell people about one aspect of your job that they probably don’t know that you do, what would it be? Why is it important?
I have had countless interactions with teens who are trying to answer questions about themselves, courageously tackling issues fundamental to their identities. My role is to remain neutral and without judgment while being knowledgeable enough to offer resources and referrals.
Q: What is the biggest challenge in your job? Why is it a challenge?
The biggest challenge of my job also makes it incredibly rewarding. I am in a constant race to keep up with teens. Everything from their interests to the tools they use for communications are constantly changing, and those changes inform the kinds of programs and library materials that will appeal to them. I try to keep close to the cutting edge while accepting that I’ll never be as on-trend as the average teenager. This pace and variation suits me because there’s little I find more irritating than repetition. Old banana peels in the office garbage are more annoying, but that’s really it.
Amber Bell, Youth Services Supervisor
Get To Know…Amber Bell, Youth Services Supervisor
Q. Why are story times important?
When young children spend time with their families talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing together, it’s not just fun. It’s also helping children build essential skills they need in order to be ready to read when they enter school.
When library staff members present story times, they are not only sharing lively songs, reading books full of rich language, and providing hands-on exploration of materials. They are simultaneously modeling for parents and caregivers how to help build a child’s vocabulary, how to connect stories to a child’s own experience, and how to strengthen a child’s understanding and love of literature.
A baby chewing on a board book is demonstrating an appreciation for books. A toddler who bursts into song at home in the kitchen, after hearing that same song at story time every week, is showing their understanding of how the sounds in words work. A preschooler who can make shapes with their fingers while they sing a rhyme is exercising the small motor skills they will need in order to write the alphabet.
Q. Could you give some examples of children who have benefited from story times?
Every morning that there is a story time, we can see the endless benefits that story times provide. We see friends gathering together in a relaxed community space, and children who are not only building early literacy skills, but also social emotional skills as they make new friends and share a sense of wonder.
Q. So story times help kids learn to read, but what about the rest of the children's programs? Why does the library need them? Can't families find programs like that on their own?
When we plan programs for kids and families at the library, we aim to support patrons to be able to express their creativity by offering arts programs and to read for pleasure through our many book clubs. We consider how to help create a more walkable, interconnected community, by planning active programs and opportunities to get outside. But most importantly, we ask ourselves: would this program be fun? When a program is fun for us to plan, and exciting for kids to join in, then families will continue to gather at the library and the more time they spend here, the more useful we can be by providing vital information, offering intriguing events and being a vibrant part of the community.
Q. About what percent of children who begin story times when they are babies or toddlers continue to come to them until they are 6?
Over time, we’ve seen many families grow. The tiniest infant coming to Book Babies grows into the older, sophisticated Family Story Time helper as new siblings arrive and join the crew.
Q. Do you have more demand for story times than you can meet? If so, about how many children do you have to turn away?
Story times at the library are so well loved that sometimes we have a hard time squeezing everyone in. We do what we can to encourage families to come on time, or to wait for a second session if the first one fills up. Even so, our hardest job is turning away disappointed families, which we must do at least a few times a week.
Q. What would the consequences be if some story times were eliminated?
It’s hard to imagine letting go of a single story time session. However, if the library needed to pare down story times, we would lose the ability to support many families in the community. With fewer story times, we would serve fewer families. We might also lose the ability to offer story times on the weekends, the only time when some working families are able to attend.
Ann-Marie Anderson, Adult Services Librarian
Get To Know…Ann-Marie Anderson, Adult Services Librarian
Ann-Marie has worked at the Tigard Library for 13 years. She coordinates the library’s senior outreach services and visits assisted living centers around town several times a year. She also manages the library’s Friendly Visitor program in addition to her reference work.
1. What would you say are the most important services the library offers seniors?
Our Large Print collection is well-utilized by seniors, and our audiobooks are also popular with those who may have a visual impairment. Our library events and classes also provide a wonderful way for seniors to stay engaged with their community and to enjoy free educational and cultural opportunities in a welcoming, accessible environment. The Library's homebound delivery services are an important way for seniors who are in assisted living or who can no longer drive to still receive library materials. For example, our Friendly Visitor homebound service volunteers help pick out books, deliver them and even chat about reading with homebound patrons!
2. Why is it important for the library to offer programs to seniors?
The American population is aging, statistically speaking. Library programs are an important part of healthy aging. They offer a fun way for aging adults to continue to learn, to be creative, mentally stimulated and to stay socially engaged. Plus, older adults have a lot to share! Many programs, such as crafting workshops and conversation projects about important issues, offer an opportunity for intergenerational conversations.
3. What are some of the most popular programs that seniors attend?
Some recent programs that have had a large percentage of senior attendance have included an estate planning presentation by a local attorney who provided an overview of information such as living trusts versus wills, a workshop on Medicare insurance options for those retiring or turning 65, and during tax season, free tax filing assistance with AARP volunteers. Our tech classes and one-on-one gadget help sessions have a steady flow of seniors learning how to keep in touch online with family and friends, download ebooks, or to use the internet to find information. Cultural and music performances are also super popular with seniors! Some recent ones were a Czech holiday concert, a Tualatin Valley Community Band concert, and a holiday concert with Aaron Meyer, which offered a rare free opportunity to see this popular local rock violinist.
4. What do you do on your visits to assisted living facilities? What kinds of things to the residents ask for?
I provide information about enrolling in our homebound library services, share some upcoming events and classes we offer at the library and invite them to attend. I also provide tech help to show how to download library e-books. I demonstrate how to use the Talking Book and Braille Library digital player that is available free from the state for the legally blind. And to provide a little entertainment and whet their reading interest, I "booktalk" a few recent great books! The residents ask for information about how to get a library card and other library services, and sometimes ask for reading recommendations as well.
5. What might the consequences be if the library had to reduce the number of programs it offers adults?
The library is that rare "third place" where the community can meet, everyone is welcome, and there’s no cost barrier. Reducing programs would mean reducing opportunities for seniors to engage with their community and to experience high-quality, free educational, cultural and recreational programs.
Holly Campbell-Polivka, Youth Services Librarian
Get To Know… Holly Campbell-Polivka, Youth Services Librarian
1) Why are story times important?
First of all, they’re sort of a big gateway to the library. People who may not use the library hear about story time. They want to come to the library and then they discover all of the other things that the library has to offer.
There’s a lot of early literacy involved with story times and early literacy doesn’t mean a two-year-old knowing how to read. It’s skills that kids have in order to learn how to read.
As a person who offers story times, I model for parents or caregivers how to practice early literacy with their kids. I also offer one early literacy tip each time, like share rhyming books because words that rhyme teach kids how to play with sounds. In order to be able to read, they need to be able to recognize the distinction between sounds.
2) What do you think the biggest benefit is for children and parents?
Story times encourage kids to enjoy books because it’s in a fun environment. Everyone is enjoying themselves while they’re reading. It’s important while they’re learning to read later that they do enjoy books. And just being exposed to words and literacy and books is a big part of story time.
One big benefit of story times is the social part of it. A lot of friendships have developed in story times. Many parents whose kids may not be in pre-school and may not have a lot of contact with other parents come to story times. They make friends. The children make friends; they learn how to socialize with other kids.
3) Any anecdotes about how you’ve seen a particular child develop after being in story times for a couple of years?
One little boy in particular comes to story times with his older sister and baby brother. He is now 4 and has been coming since he was a baby. His sister is now 7, and his brother is almost 3. His sister was always very verbal, and though he often sat in the front row, he was fairly quiet and I believe his speech may have been a bit delayed.
I sing the same goodbye song at the end of every story time. He started going home and practicing the goodbye song. Soon, part of his story time routine became just the two of us singing the goodbye song with each other after stories and songs had ended, while all the other kids were playing and doing crafts. He has moved beyond that part of his story time routine now that he is older, but now whenever he comes, he is always right there participating throughout the entire story time.
4) How do story times benefit the community?
If you look at Tigard’s Strategic Plan, the way story times benefit the community is interconnectedness. They bring people together. They bring the community together. Friendships develop in story times. They prepare kids for school.
5) What would the consequences be if we had to reduce story times due to lack of funding?
We would have a lot of unhappy patrons. People rely on our story times. We do have a lot of parents who make story times part of their regular routine. Story times are a very important part of the programming we offer. People expect them, and it would be a huge loss if we had to reduce them.
Katie Nelson, Volunteer Coordinator
Get To Know… Katie Nelson, Volunteer Coordinator
Katie recently received her Master’s in History from Portland State University, where she researched and wrote about Portland’s civil rights advocacy efforts in the 1970s. In her spare time, Katie enjoys reading and spending time outdoors hiking and camping. A few of her favorite books include A Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes and Roots by Alex Haley. She will celebrate her second year as Volunteer Coordinator on Wed., Aug. 8.
1) Tell us about your job. What are your main duties? As the Library’s Volunteer Coordinator, I am responsible for recruiting new library volunteers, recording current monthly volunteer service hours, helping volunteers find the perfect position for their skills and experience and maintaining the growth of the volunteer program.
2) How do volunteers serve the library? How many people typically volunteer at the library? We have 280 regular volunteers at the library and 380 volunteers annually. Monthly, our volunteers contribute on average about 1,300 hours of service to the library, the equivalent of about 7.2 full-time positions. Volunteers serve the library in a variety of ways! They work in the Technical Services, Readers Services or Circulation divisions.
In Readers Services, volunteers work as Program Assistants for youth services, and we have volunteers who visit homebound patrons through our Friendly Visitor Program in Adult Services. The majority of our monthly volunteer work is in Circulation. They help in many ways, but primarily in getting materials back on the shelves via bin sorting and shelving, pulling patron requests for reserved items, and welcoming patrons as our Entry Point Greeter. We also have volunteers who are Local History Room docents, Special Project Volunteers, and Administrative Assistant Volunteers.
3) Why does this job appeal to you? I frequented the libraries of my hometown, college town and current home. I have a deep love and respect for libraries and the robust services they provide—not only books, but additional educational and entertainment resources such as movies, CDs, programs and classes. I love that both my personal life and professional lives support a public service such as the library. I also enjoy the diversity of people that I get to work with in this position. You cannot typecast a library volunteer. Each volunteer’s history, background and skillsets are incredibly diverse. This makes for a unique environment where every day is different.
4) Describe a particularly memorable experience you’ve had since you have been here. The two times I’ve planned the annual Volunteer Recognition Event have been memorable—especially in regards to the volunteers who are being honored at the event. Each year at the event, we recognize volunteers who have reached various milestones in their volunteer service (500 hours, 1,000 hours, 1,500 hours, etc., and 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, etc). Last year, we recognized a volunteer who has been volunteering at the library for 30 years, and another volunteer who has contributed 7,000 hours to the library! And this year, we recognized a volunteer for 25 years of service and another for 6,500 hours! I love being able to formally recognize volunteers for all that they do for the community.
5) What do you appreciate most about the library’s volunteers? I appreciate a lot of their qualities; humor, knowledge, expertise and dependability, to name a few. But the universal quality I appreciate most about Tigard Public Library’s volunteers is their dedication to service within the community. By volunteering at the library, these volunteers are helping Tigard taxpayers and citizens, both directly and indirectly, by supporting library programs, re-shelving items so that they get back into patron’s hands quicker, and helping keep the library a friendly, welcoming environment. Our volunteers come to the library everyday with smiles on their faces and an admirable eagerness to help the community. It’s the best.
6) What do you envision for the future of the volunteer program? Library volunteers are selfless. When we have a need, they are here to meet that need and support the community’s success. With the city’s projected growth, I think the volunteer program will also need to grow. A lot of the new volunteers we welcome to the library every month are new to the Tigard community and want to learn more about the city and its services, as well as meet other residents. I think the program will continue to grow by the sheer number of people moving to the state. We are always happy to have new people at the library, and lucky for us, there is always work to do!
Stephanie Milbrodt, Sr. Technical Services Librarian
Get To Know… Stephanie Milbrodt, Sr. Technical Services Librarian
You may know the friendly faces who greet you at the Circulation and Reference Desks, but behind the scenes, a trio of specially trained librarians are dedicated to making sure that you can find what you’re looking for. Enter Super Catalogers!
Stephanie Milbrodt is Tigard’s Senior Technical Services Librarian. “The data that cataloging staff enter into our system directly affects how users find items in the online catalog and in our stacks. I enjoy managing this data in a way that I hope makes searching for materials easy and meaningful.”
1) Describe your job at the library.
I catalog new materials as they enter the building. Cataloging includes reviewing the technical data and item-specific information that displays in the online catalog, creating new bibliographic records when needed, and classifying materials to decide where they will sit on the shelves. Accuracy in our technical data is essential because one mistake can make it difficult for library staff and patrons to find a title in the catalog. Inaccuracies in our item data can make it difficult for Circulation staff and volunteers to shelve materials or pull items to fill hold requests. Altogether, the three catalogers at Tigard catalog about 3,000 new items each month. In addition to cataloging, I also work at the Adult Reference Desk.
2) In all the cataloging you’ve done, what are some of the most fun or interesting facts you’ve discovered or experiences you’ve had?
Most of the bibliographic records used by WCCLS come from a database of library resource records called OCLC (Online Computer Library Center). OCLC is used worldwide, and libraries ranging from the Library of Congress to small city libraries contribute to it. Every time Tigard Library staff create a new bibliographic record, it is added to this database so that other libraries can use it, too. An example of a record that I recently updated in OCLC is the Broadway cast recording for Mean Girls [which was just nominated for several Tony Awards]. I added data on the cast, creators and subject headings that all libraries with this CD will now be able to use.
3) What do you like about working for the City?
“I like the City of Tigard’s vision. Interconnectivity is not limited to just streets and sidewalks but also to information. My work at the library gives me the opportunity to enable the citizens of Tigard to educate themselves about a variety of topics.”
4) When you have your nose in a book instead of the cataloging records, what do you enjoy doing and reading? What are you reading now?
I enjoy crafting (sewing, knitting, crocheting, card making), watching hockey (go Avs!), listening to music and reading. I enjoy reading Fantasy, Science Fiction, graphic novels and literature. I am currently reading Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman.
Stephanie has worked at the Tigard Library for three years. She has a BA in Japanese Studies from Pacific University and a Master’s in Library Science from Emporia State University.
Cally Meldrum, Circulation Library Assistant
Get To Know… Cally Meldrum, Circulation Library Assistant
Cally Meldrum, Circulation Library Assistant is one of the friendly faces who helps you at the Circulation and Welcome desks. As she says, “if you’ve read the Sabriel Series by Garth Nix, then you are aware that Library Assistants are pretty tough. While I haven’t fought a magical creature recently, I have tackled weird patron account issues and located books that have…disappeared.” Not only is she an avid reader, Cally also writes poetry and short stories.
1) What do you like best about working here?
Working with volunteers! On Saturday mornings the library is invaded by a gaggle of helpful teenagers in various stages of being awake. I get to train them to put library materials on the shelves. These kids are wonderful! They give their Saturday mornings to their community.
2) How has your job helped you in other aspects of your life?
I get to meet so many people! If I see you out and about I’ll say Hey!” I’ve run into patrons at the grocery store, at the Tigard Farmer’s Market and on the Fanno Creek Trail. Our community is pretty neat.
3) What do you do when you’re off the clock?
If I’m not at the library, I’m probably on my bicycle or hanging out with my family. I sing alto in my community choir and sometimes I play my violin in public.
4) Tell us about a memorable experience you’ve had while working here. Why was it memorable?
A few weeks ago we had two ukulele workshops. So many people came with ukuleles, and there were some loaners for people without them. I’m all for community music. There were so many smiling people. One guy told me he had made a new friend.
5) If you could have lunch with any author living or dead? Who would it be and why?
I want to meet Maggie Stiefvater! She is so encouraging to new writers on social media. I want to pick her brain about the writing process and what it takes to take an idea all the way through publishing.
Joyce Niewendorp, Senior Librarian
Get To Know… Joyce Niewendorp, Senior Librarian
1) What do you like best about working here?
The people that I have the privilege of assisting every day are the best part of my job. People of all ages and walks of life come to the library for a variety of reasons. Most just need a little bit of help finding something they need or want. They are thankful for staff’s time and the resources provided by the library. What could be more satisfying than knowing that because of you, someone walked out of the library with just what they were after?
2) You’ve worked at Tigard for over 12 years. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in both the library world in general and at Tigard specifically?
I believe that the biggest changes that have taken place in libraries have to do with the rapid advances in technology. As patrons acquired personal devices, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, the libraries have jumped on the bandwagon by offering ebooks, wifi and wireless printing. Tigard Library patrons can connect to Kanopy, a streaming video service that offers more than 30,000 films. Wow! Though new ways of accessing and viewing books and information have evolved, the constant is that people still look to libraries for information and great books to read.
3) Please describe your duties at the library.
My principal responsibility as a librarian is to provide service to the patrons of the Tigard community. At the reference desk I might help someone locate a particular book or information on a specific topic. For instance, I just had someone ask me for a book about dowsing. Another patron might need assistance with technology, hardware and/or software. To keep the library’s collection current and vital, I review and select new materials such as adult mysteries, as well as withdraw items to keep the collection current. The Tigard Library provides a wide array of programming for all ages. I coordinate the program lineup for adults and, along with my colleagues, plan a variety of programs each quarter.
4) Describe a memorable moment on the job? Why did it have an effect on you?
It’s all the little moments that bring a smile to my face and make me look forward to coming to the Tigard Library every day. It’s the day that someone called me a genius because I found the book they wanted. It’s easing the frustration of a patron when I’m able to help them figure out how to navigate a specific website. It’s helping a patron choose a diabetic cookbook because she wants to manage her diabetes. It’s hearing a patron tell us how much they “love this library.” How gratifying it is to know that what I do makes a difference for someone else.
5) Can you share the titles and authors of two books that you’ve discovered and enjoyed while working here?
One author that I’ve discovered since working at the Tigard Library is Phillip Margolin, a local attorney. When he spoke at the Tigard Library to open the library’s Adult Summer Reading Program a few years ago, I knew I needed to try one of his mysteries. I enjoy a good mystery and reading stories that take place in familiar territory. His stories are often set in Portland or elsewhere in Oregon. They draw me in and keep me guessing until the end, like his latest novel The Third Victim. I also particularly enjoyed his historical fiction work Worthy Brown’s Daughter.
The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron is the fictionalized tale of John and Mable Ringling with an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at life with the traveling circus. Having once lived in Sarasota, Florida, the winter home of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, I feel a bit connected to the story. After reading the book, I did a little research and discovered that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ final performance was in May 2017… not that long ago. I was saddened to learn that this era has passed, but happy to see the history of the circus continues to be preserved in Sarasota at the Museum of Art, the Circus Museum and in Ca’ d’Zan, the winter home of John and Mable Ringling.
Lindsay Delaney, Youth Services Librarian
Lindsay Delaney, Youth Services Librarian
1) Please describe your duties at the library.
I work on library services for our kids, teens, and families – especially Spanish speakers. Any given day, I might be picking out books in Spanish for the library to order, planning a bilingual story time, answering questions at the children’s desk, or making a visit to a nearby school. Throughout the year, I plan special events like our upcoming Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) program.
2) What do you like best about working here?
One of the things I like best about working here is the opportunity to bring the library into the community. Each of the past two summers, I have made weekly visits to two summer free lunch sites for kids. It’s a great chance for kids to join the summer reading program and choose books to read. This year, the Friends of the Library generously sponsored an outreach collection of books in Spanish and English. Almost 80 kids and teens took home books during my visits.
3) Why is it important for the library to offer bilingual services?
In Tigard, around eight percent of our community speaks Spanish. Bilingual services mean that these community members can enjoy books and media in Spanish, ask questions to bilingual staff and attend bilingual events. These resources are especially important for our youngest community members. Research has shown that kids who learn to read in their first language have a strong foundation for future reading and learning, too. By providing services and materials to children and families in Spanish, we are supporting literacy in our community.
4) Describe a memorable moment you’ve experienced on this job? Why did it have an effect on you?
Just a couple of weeks ago, we started up our fall story time season. At our first session of bilingual story time, I welcomed 30 kids and adults. That’s more than double the attendance when we launched the program a year ago! It has been great to see the story time community grow and to know that everything we do in story time – talking, singing, reading, writing and playing – is preparing kids to be ready to learn to read.
5) Can you share the titles and authors of two books that you’ve discovered and enjoyed while working here? Why did they make an impact on you?
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: This young adult fantasy by a Portland author features a world that is so cool; an orphan librarian is on a quest to find a missing city. Even more mysteriously, the name of the city has been erased from all minds and history. Be warned! This book ends with a cliffhanger. You might want to put the sequel on hold.
Duermevela by Juan Muñoz-Tébar: I always enjoy reviewing the picture books that arrive in Spanish. Duermevela struck me with its graphic novel style illustrations and economy of words. The gentle story about the beauty of the nighttime world and a girl waiting to fall asleep is ideal for one-on-one sharing.
Meagan Gibson, Acquisitions Supervisor
Meagan Gibson, Acquisitions Supervisor
1. What do you like best about working here?
I love the library, and I love sharing it with people. I can’t choose one thing I like best, but I’ll tell you about one of my favorite small pleasures. When I order a new item that was requested by a patron, I place the patron’s hold on the item as soon as it’s ordered. That way, they’re first in line when the item comes in! It’s fun to think about how happy they’ll be when they get that shiny new book.
2. What have you learned while working here that has helped you do your job better?
I’ve learned that I’m surrounded by passionate, knowledgeable people who want nothing more than to provide an amazing library for our community. Many of my coworkers have special skills and areas of expertise. If I need advice on anything, from collection development, to troubleshooting e-reader issues, to creatively adapting tricky items so they can circulate safely in and out of the library (sturdier cases! add pockets!), I know I have a vast pool of shared knowledge to draw from. I work with people who care deeply about the library and its patrons, and they’re always willing to lend a helping hand.
3. Describe a memorable moment you’ve experienced on this job. Why did it have an effect on you?
I had the opportunity to work with a troop of Girl Scouts who were earning their bookmaking badge. I taught them some techniques we use in Technical Services when we’re mending damaged items, and showed them some of the behind-the scenes magic of the library. My passion was clearly contagious. I saw their faces light up, answered their thoughtful questions, and heard them making plans for what they would do with their next trip to the library. I feel so lucky to have shared some of my favorite things about the library with them, and I’m hopeful that they will become lifelong learners and library users.
4. What is the most important role of the library in the Tigard community?
The library is a welcoming and friendly space for people. We serve as a “third place” (neither home nor work) for the community—a neutral, safe space where people can spend time and engage with one another. This is an important part of Tigard’s strategic vision. We provide a sort of “living room” for people of all ages and abilities to live healthy, interconnected lives.
5. Can you share the titles and authors of two books that you’ve discovered and enjoyed while working here? Why did they make an impact on you?
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
I’ve read this book twice now, and I still can’t wrap my head all the way around it! It’s a great way to gain some perspective. Consider processes occurring in the space right under our noses, and inside us, and far out in the universe in places we can only imagine! It’s a good reminder for me of all that we still don’t know about the world.
No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula Le Guin
This is a collection of essays from the blog of renowned author Ursula Le Guin, who passed away earlier this year. She examines both the profound and the mundane, including ruminations on approaching the end of life, and a thoughtful essay on the art of eating a soft-boiled egg. I’ve appreciated much of her fictional writing and enjoyed the chance to read some of her thoughts on life. She had an amazing mind, and will be much missed.
Connor Meldrum, Library Assistant
Connor Meldrum, Library Assistant
If you check out books at the front desk, you may already know Connor. As a circulation library assistant he is one of the first people to greet you at the Welcome Desk and one of the last to send you on your way with your stack of books, films and music. Behind the scenes, Connor processes returned and reserved items so they can get back on the shelves and back into other people’s book bags. He also works with items that need special attention or mending.
1. What do you like best about working here?
No one works in isolation—everyone in circulation has a sense of teamwork and looking out for each other. It really helps instill confidence when you’re providing customer service. You know someone has your back.
2. How has your job helped you in other aspects of your life?
Working on the customer service side of the library really helps my interactions with people as a whole and vice-versa. For an introvert like me, that’s a really good thing.
3. What do you do when you’re off the clock?
I tend to play a lot of video games and read a lot of comics. (Some of which I often get through the library!) The biggest part of my time is spent developing a comic (or graphic novel, depending on who you talk to) that is currently publishing online weekly! I used to do more illustration and fine art, but that’s taken a back burner to creating the comic the past couple years.
4. Tell us about a memorable experience you’ve had while working here. Why was it memorable?
Helping creatively plan (decorations) for the Volunteer Appreciation Event in April was very fun, and I got a lot of praise and feedback on the decorations I made that I was not really expecting. That just opened my eyes a bit to the community-within-community who are the fleet of volunteers the library depends on.
5. If you could have lunch with any author living or dead who would it be and why?
Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy, specifically to pick his brain about his storytelling style and technical processes that got him where he is today. He was also one of my first and biggest influences in reading and creating comics, so I guess I would tell him that, too.
Terri Smith, Senior Library Assistant
Terri Smith is the Senior Library Assistant in Youth Services and has been with the library for nearly 30 years, bringing joy to children and their families and receiving joy in return. She has shepherded the Library’s annual Mitten Tree for more than 20 years. As of last year, the Tigard community has donated more than 4,000 items over the years.
1. What are your main duties at the library?
My official job title is Senior Library Assistant for Youth Services. If you’ve ever watched M.A.S.H. (I’m dating myself here), just think of me as Radar O’Reilly. My duties are programming, story times, outreach, displays, coordinating projects for a fabulous group of Youth Services volunteers, reference desk shifts and a cornucopia of everything “glittery” in between.
2. You’ve worked at the Tigard Public Library for 29 years. What do you like best about working here? How has the library changed over the years?
I started out part time in Youth Services in the Library and a fledgling Parks and Rec program. As the Library grew, my time in Youth Services working with our smallest patrons became my only focus. Unofficially, I’ve been with the library every since I was a child, helping my neighbors bring about the dream of a Library for the city. My friends and I enjoyed going house-to-house collecting books often after a good tree climbing adventure and pollywog chase. Tigard was a lot smaller then, and the Library was just a small spare room.
One of the things I like about working here is meeting such a diverse population of individuals with so many fun, challenging and unique questions, interests and opinions. At times I feel like I’ve traveled the world without leaving the states.
I can honestly say I have and will continue to learn at least ten new things each day from patrons and our fantastic staff. However, my heart belongs to all the children who’ve come through the library doors over the years. Seeing so many return with their families, talking to them about their successes and challenges in life, it is so easy to see why the library is called the living room within the Tigard community.
3. What are some of your favorite memories related to the Mitten Tree?
The City of Tigard as a whole has always been proactive about giving back to the community. The Mitten Tree evolved as a way to bring together a variety of inspired community projects under one roof or, shall I say “Tree.”
Everything about the Mitten Tree represents the spirit of those who give and the community in which they live. Personally I enjoy the groups of folks who make gorgeous hand-made items and place them on the tree wanting only to give and remain anonymous. The sparkle in everyone’s eyes and the conversations adults have with their children about the importance of thinking about someone else are priceless.
4. You have worked with literally thousands of kids in your job. What do you enjoy most about it?
ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING! From watching each and every one grow and explore the possibilities of books, which is the first and most important pre-literacy skill, to being actively engaged in reading to learn.
5. Who are some of your favorite Kids’ book authors and why?
Honestly I can say that I never met a kids’ book or author I didn’t like. There is an infinitesimal number of authors who should not be writing for kids, but those with jewels of creativity far outshine those individuals.
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! along with I Like Myself! are a couple of my favorite children’s books. Both are written by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by David Catrow. These two individuals are seriously funny and are deliriously happy painting outside the lines. If you ever need to be reminded on what it’s like to be a kid, give these a read.
Tere Trawinski, Technical Services
When you come to the library looking for a good book, chances are you’ll pull one off the shelf, check it out and read, read, read. But people rarely see all the activity that goes on behind the scenes before that book gets into your hands. Tere Trawinski is one of the diligent staff who work in Technical Services to get library materials from delivery to the shelves. After a stint as a volunteer and a Circulation Assistant, she was hired in Technical Services in 2008. Originally from Peru, Tere is also one of the library’s Spanish translators.
What are your main duties?
They include unpacking all new materials, such as books, DVDs, CDs and Books on CD. I also indicate when they need to be “rushed” (popular, new releases, seasonal) or when they require additional processing before they are catalogued. I also apply labels and stickers to our books and audio-visual items, such as call numbers and Mystery, Holiday and Bestsellers, etc. Once a week I process magazines and newspapers. We have a few wonderful volunteers who help us out.
What do you like most about working here? How has the library changed since you’ve been here?
I truly enjoy working at the library because it is a healthy environment and quiet. There is camaraderie among the staff and sincere desire to serve the community. Supervisors and managers also show concern and appreciation for the work that we and the volunteers do.
The biggest change will happen soon when our patrons will be allowed use their audible phones for brief quiet calls. They will also be able to bring a small snack and covered non-alcoholic drinks. I trust that patrons will welcome the change.
When you’re curled up on the couch at home (or in your favorite reading chair), what do you like to read?At home, I like to browse through the library’s non-fiction books and magazines. If I am interested in learning about a particular person or subject, I read one from our wonderful Juvenile collection. They are a short read and often satisfy my curiosity. I also enjoy watching documentaries and listening to books on CD, at home and while driving. The library has a nice collection of audio-visual material.
You are originally from Perú. When did you come to this country? Why?
I came to the U.S.A. soon after high school to attend college, sponsored by my older sister while her military husband was stationed overseas.
Describe a memorable moment you’ve experienced on this job. Why did it have an effect on you?
When I was fairly new in Technical Services, we received at least two large boxes of “Harry Potter” books right after it had been published. They came with a large label with the publisher’s Release or Sale Date. Everyone was excited, and the boxes were immediately moved to the manager’s office to be closely guarded until that date. There were hundreds of holds, maybe even a record number then. It taught me the importance of watching out for “Sale Dates.”
Ning Wang, Adult Services Librarian
Get To Know…Ning Wang, Adult Services Librarian
Adult services librarian Ning Wang has worked at the library for more than 15 years. He is one of the friendly faces at the adult reference desk who will help you get the information you need. He also selects books for the library on many topics, including medical science, technology and gardening. Ning grew up in China in the Jilin Province in northeast China between Russia and North Korea. He has lived in the United States for 30 years. He received his library degree at Dominic College in River Forest, IL.
Why did you choose to become a librarian? I grew up in a time that most of the books were banned during the cultural revolution in China. Getting a good book to read became such an endeavor that required social networking by knowing someone who secretly kept books. Reading books brought me light and hope during that dark period. When I had a chance to go to library school in this country, I knew that was my calling. I can work with books and promote reading all day.
How do libraries in China differ from ones in the United States? One major difference is the scope of services. Our libraries, especially public libraries, are community-oriented. We not only provide books to readers, but also serve as a community center for families to learn, have fun and satisfy all kinds of information needs. On the other hand, public libraries in China are large in scale and well equipped with technologies. However, they are still focused on the traditional functions of libraries: providing a space for reading and lending collections. They lack programming and other social community services.
What do you like most about working at the Tigard Library? I enjoy the working environment at the library, especially the staff. They are such a nice group of people to work with. They are professional, knowledgeable and very cooperative with one another. It feels like home. Coming to work is fun and enjoyable.
Why is the library important to the community? I believe the library is a place the whole community can use for their informational needs, to enrich their lives and enjoy the fun stuff with equal opportunities.
Can you name one book that you’ve read in the past year that you would recommend? I recommend Shelter by Jung Yun — An immigrant family has a dark secret that a horrific home invasion brought to light. The story is gripping and intense. The author knows firsthand how every day immigrants face the hardship of adjusting in the new home.
Laurie Calvert, Senior Circulation Library Assistant
Laurie Calvert, Senior Circulation Library Assistant
Laurie, a senior circulation library assistant, is a lifelong library lover. Her first two experiences were with libraries the size of closets. Although her family have didn’t have many books when she young, when she met her first Bookmobile, as she says, “WOW! It was a new kind of love all over again—a library about the size of a large closet, except this time on wheels.” And her passion for libraries never wavered.
1. Then what happened?
My professional start in libraries began when we moved to Oregon in 1990. I decided to make my dream come true and turn my love of libraries into a career. I enrolled in the PCC Library Media Assistant program, was hired at an elementary school library and worked there 10 years. After a six-year stint in the private sector, I wanted to return to work in a library and was hired at Tigard Public Library almost 10 years ago.
2. What is the most important role of the Library in the Tigard community?
I think the most important role of the Library is that we provide a safe and friendly gathering place for ALL members of the community to access information, attend programs and study.
3. What are three things you like about working here?
- The staff and volunteers, who I think of as my second family—my TPL family. We truly care about each other and that makes it a harmonious and fun place to work.
- The patrons. I love to engage them in conversation and listen to what they have to say. I feel joy seeing the love of books in the eyes of our youngest patrons. It brings me joy to hear from our patrons how much they love our library!
- I have daily access to a never-ending source of reading and listening material. How cool is that?
4. Can you share the titles and authors of two books that you’ve discovered and enjoyed while working here? Why did they make an impact on you?
Minding the Store by Julie Gaines is a graphic memoir about a young NYC couple who, in the mid-eighties, opened a glassware/houseware store and have all kinds of life and strife. It was my first graphic check-out!
Still Life by Louise Penny, is the first book in the Inspector Gamache stories. Several of my co-workers love this series so it’s given us a chance to connect and talk about the setting and characters of this Mystery series.
5. What have you learned while working here that has helped you do your job better?
I’ve learned how each division in the Library is interconnected. By familiarizing myself with the roles of other Library staff and by understanding what each division contributes, I can point patrons in the right direction.
Janet Weber, Youth Services Librarian
Janet has worked for the Tigard Library in various capacities for 15 years. From on-call to part-time to full-time, she has made an impression on parents and kids alike as a youth services librarian. Her passion is kids, especially very young children who are getting their first introduction to reading and storytelling. Janet is a huge Dr. Seuss fan. If you see a petite person in a Cat in the Hat chapeau about as tall as she is, chances are it’s Janet.
1. What are your main duties at the library? About half my time is spent at the children’s reference desk answering patron questions and steering children and their grown-ups to exciting children’s literature for their homework assignments and recreational reading needs. I also create many booklists to help readers find a good juvenile fiction book.
Currently I purchase Juvenile Fiction books, Juvenile Graphic Novels, Board Books, Juvenile Kits and Juvenile books on CD. I’ve developed a variety of programming throughout the years. Currently I lead the Book Babies Story Time which focuses on the early literacy development of babies from birth through 12 months. I also hire performers for our monthly Tuesday evening programs and our Summer Reading Program entertainment.
2. What’s your favorite part of your job? My most favorite part is suggesting juvenile audiobooks and juvenile graphic novels to patrons.
It can be challenging working with a child who hates reading and must read a book for a school assignment. You can tell by their mannerisms they clearly do not want to be in the library and don’t want to do the assignment. Sometimes those interactions can take a lot of nudging, but once I can talk to them and show them books I think they might like, their attitude changes, their eyes start to light up and excitement comes across their face for a book they are finally interested in reading.
It’s those small victories that make a difference, hence my second favorite part of the job. I’ve had countless parents tell me that their child really enjoyed the book(s) I suggested to them and now their child wants more books to read, hence the third favorite part of the job!
3. If you could do one thing as a librarian to improve the community, what would it be? Why? To help people get past the notion that libraries and print books will become obsolete because of the internet and e-books. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Libraries and librarians are needed today more than ever.
Many people visit TPL daily because they do not have internet access at home, plus we get many patrons who need help searching the internet. Yes, the internet is here to stay, but much of the population needs help finding the information they need, understanding how it is organized and how to find it. They want help understanding what resources are available to them and how to evaluate them critically. Librarians are professionals in information literacy techniques and are more than happy to lead people to resources they never knew existed.
Librarians select and purchase quality online subscription databases and e-books. Many people are unaware that WCCLS provides these invaluable resources to the public. Why pay for e-books or downloadable audiobooks online when you can get them for free using our subscription to Overdrive?
If your child is having a hard time finding information for their geography report, we’ve got CultureGrams with an assortment of useful information to help kids succeed. I particularly like telling people they don’t need to pay for a subscription to Ancestry when they can use it for free from the library.
4. Describe a memorable moment you’ve experienced on this job. Why did it have an effect on you? When I see a baby clap their hands for the first time as I did today, or when I see a baby grab the book for the first time, or when I see a baby turn book pages for the first time, or see one turn the book right side up and babble-read the book, those are all HUGE moments. It shows that Book Babies is making a major early literacy development impact in the baby’s and their caregiver’s lives.
These small moments set the stage for baby to learn language before they can speak, read and write on their own…all of which are important skills for them to be successful before they start school. Now I’ve got Book Baby alumni who are in 1st grade and reading chapter books! All I can say is, “WOW!” every time I see one of those kids with their latest read!
5. Who is your favorite kids’ author? Why? My absolute favorite of all time is Dr. Seuss. I loved his books as a child because I thought his characters were so silly because they were nothing like other books I read at that age. Plus, I just love his creativity!
6. How have you used your Master Gardening talents in your library work? A few years after the current building opened, I replaced the plants in the library courtyard planters because the original plantings were not suitable for them. I have hosted several planting day events for patrons. In 2018 I hosted a pop-up program where anyone could come help plant. At that event I introduced a more sustainable long-term solution using types of plants that should last for a number of years while requiring little care.
Brandon Liang, Tigard High Sophomore & Lisa Elliott, Young Adult Librarian
Get To Know… Brandon Liang, Tigard High Sophomore
One of the biggest changes in the library in its 15 years at this location is the creation of Teen Scene, the new teen space on the first floor. Brandon Liang is just finishing his sophomore year at Tigard High School. Recently, he and Young Adult Librarian Lisa Elliott spoke with Books & Bits to talk about the changes.
1. Why do you think a new teen room is important?
Brandon: I think we need to bring more teens into the library. When I look at the other teen rooms from the other libraries, I see that there are a lot of teens there. I feel like there isn’t a permanent space here for us. We have our little teen area upstairs, but I feel like we need a bigger area that’s more geared for us and that’s just a space of our own.
2. What are you most excited about?
Brandon: I’m very excited to see what activities we can do in this new teen room instead of holding them in any other rooms at the library. I’m excited to see the new alcove, which looks like it could turn into a lot of different things.
3. What do you think is the first thing you’ll do in there?
Brandon: Probably try to find my own space in there and just feel it out and see if it’s a space to bring friends in to study or just have fun there and build a small community with.
4. What would you tell other teens to encourage them to use the room?
Brandon: I would tell them that our new teen room is a space meant for teens, a space that’s all-inclusive for all teens and a space that would be for them to do their own things in and to really be with other people our age.
Lisa interjects: Brandon’s taste has had a big impact on this project. He's had very thoughtful things to say about colors and textures and patterns that would go together.
5. In addition to colors and patterns, what other things have you suggested?
Brandon: In the alcove, when we were deciding what should go in there, the shelves were sort of my group’s addition. We were thinking of more of an aesthetic design. We were trying to replicate some of the designs from places that are popular with teens. We looked at a lot of places like Bubble Tea shops, which are surging in popularity and coffee shops like Symposium and Primo Espresso. Those are places where a lot of teens go to after school to study and hang out. We tried taking some inspiration from those places, like the shelves or some of the darker colors in Primo and Symposium.
Lisa Elliott, Young Adult Librarian
1. How did this idea come about?
Lisa: Everything about the teen space is inspired by the teens. I’ve been here for 11 years and from the beginning of that tenure, I noticed that they were not comfortable in the space that was meant for them. Basically, teens need to be themselves. They are concerned about being disruptive to others. Even the way they study can be very social.
They also need a space that reflects who they are, a space that looks different from the rest of the library that is something special and unique where they have autonomy. My role as a librarian is to be there for them when they need me, not to be their nanny.
2. Can you discuss some of the new features or changes, including the reference area?
Lisa: Currently we have the capacity to staff the Young Adult desk after school and all day on weekends. Sometimes we can’t be there when we are needed elsewhere. So I wanted the reference desk to be an area that would be useful when it’s not being staffed. We’ve chosen a piece of furniture that should appear welcoming and be useful for anyone to pull up a stool and use it when the librarian isn’t there and also when the librarian is there. I want to be able to work with teens who can sit at the table comfortably with me rather than stand awkwardly in front of me at a desk.
We asked the teens to give us their ideas about the aesthetic of the room. We’ve used everything they’ve had to say to guide all of our decisions on paint colors, furniture selection. I think it’s going to look really cool.
I’ve been wanting beanbag chairs for years. I wanted some pieces that people can move around to use where they need it, rather than big, heavy chairs that are stuck in one place. We want a flexible space.
The alcove will be really cool. The teen space is exclusively for teens after school and on weekends. The alcove will be exclusively teen all the time. It’s a small room that will have a great big whiteboard for collaborative art and a shelf with board games. Our Friends of the Library have agreed to fund some new board games for us. Tables that people can use to study and collaborate, but will also be able to use and roll away.
3. What other kinds of contributions have the teens made?
Lisa: Over the years I’ve heard lots of suggestions from teens on ways the teen room can be improved. Before we went ahead with this project, we needed to make sure that the teens were OK with the location. One of my biggest concerns was that it would be too close to the children’s area for their taste. But our teens thought it was a benefit to be close to the children’s area and still saw there was a very clear separation between the space. We had teens who helped us today with a big shift of library collections to prepare the space.
I sent teens messages several times on Instagram. This beanbag or that beanbag?
Two students did their mentorship project with us this year and they did some research about signs in teen spaces and their information helped us decide on the look and the wording for the signs in the area.
4. Final thoughts?
Lisa: I also think this is an opportunity to create some cool new spaces for adults and to move opportunities for reference to where they need to be. More of the adult collections will be upstairs where the adult librarians are. More of the youth collections will be downstairs where the youth librarians are.
Brenna Normann, Librarian
Get To Know… Brenna Normann, Librarian
Brenna Normann joined the Tigard Library staff in 2015 as a cataloging librarian in the Technical Services division. Her main duties include cataloging new and donated books, DVDs, Blu-Rays and Books on CD. She works at the Adult Reference Desk each week and fills in at other public service desks when needed. She also selects materials on computer science and religion for the Adult Non-fiction collection.
1. Why were you attracted to a career in libraries?
I always wanted a career where I get to help people. I debated about becoming a teacher, but after a few years in college I decided librarianship was a better fit. I love being a resource for people, providing information that can help improve any aspect of their lives. The possibilities are endless!
2. How long have you worked at the Tigard Library? What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in both the library world in general and at Tigard specifically?
I started working at the Tigard Library in 2015. I think one of the biggest changes I’ve seen during my eight years of working in libraries is how much their role has changed within the communities they serve. Libraries are constantly evolving to meet patrons where they’re at. Many libraries now have social workers on staff and offer increasingly more diverse programming, as well as streaming media services, to name a few. Tigard Library is no exception.
We recently rejuvenated our collections by moving our Adult materials upstairs to create our new Teen Scene on the first floor and added new collections such as video games, wi-fi hotspots and more. It’s an exciting time to work at the Tigard Library.
3. What part of the world would you like to travel to? Why?
It is a dream of mine to get certified as an open water scuba diver and explore the world’s oceans. I’ve been fascinated by marine life since I was a small child. The thought of exploring beneath the surface and getting up close and personal with the life down there exhilarates me. I’m hoping to get my certification this year and will begin scuba diving as soon as possible after that. I’d also love to visit Africa. I recently read that in Gabon it’s possible to see elephants, gorillas and whales in the same day!
4. What do you like best about working here?
Every single thing I do here has a positive impact on the community. When I’m not engaging directly with our patrons, I am busy getting materials cataloged and ready for them to check out. I also order books that patrons request or select materials that will entertain and educate. I love being an agent for positive change in other people’s lives. It’s also an honor to work with a team that is so dedicated to making a positive difference in the community.
5. Please share the titles and authors of two books that you’ve discovered since working here that have particularly meant a lot to you? Why?
I moved to the area when I began the job in 2015 and was drawn to the idea of eating locally. I immediately read Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Both books discuss the current food habits of society and provide constructive criticism on ways we can improve our food habits for a better world. I found both these books to be incredibly well-written, educational and entertaining.
Halsted Bernard, Library Director
Get To Know… Halsted Bernard, Library Director
The library has a new Director! Halsted Bernard is only the sixth director in the library’s 56-year history. Halsted has been the library’s circulation manager for three years and has worked in libraries most of her life. Get to know our accessible Director. She welcomes your suggestions and feedback. You can reach her at HalstedB@tigard-or.gov or 503-718-2501.
1. What are you most looking forward to as Director of the Tigard Public Library? I can’t wait to work with everyone to establish the Tigard Public Library as the heart of the community through responsiveness, stability and innovation.
As a team, we will begin with listening and responding to patrons and staff. Together, we will evaluate the responses from our most recent patron survey and develop a plan to implement the most impactful yet fiscally responsible changes to spaces, materials, programs and outreach. We will also assess employee engagement and improve transparency in communication. After this, we will focus on building greater stability with the development of a new strategic plan, a comprehensive staff development program and other necessary infrastructure.
2. What initially drew you to librarianship?
Lastly, we will commit our energy and focus to innovation. Because we will have done the hard work to increase engagement, invest in professional development and fortify infrastructure, we will create a culture of collaboration in which continuous improvement and new ideas will flourish.
My parents tell me that my first unofficial library job involved “checking out” my father’s books to him, complete with old due-date cards, an ink pad and a date stamp. Back then, I was quite a stickler for overdue fines!
My first official library job, though, happened rather by circumstance. When I applied for a work-study job in college, I was given the choice of the last two positions open: one in the gym and one in the library. I didn’t even hesitate before choosing the library. At the time, I thought “library work” meant reading books. I was disabused of this notion on my very first day! Each night I came home from work exhausted but fulfilled in a way I hadn’t been by other jobs. I fell in love with the mixture of detective work and social work, of information and relation.
3. If you could live in a different time, past or future, what would it be? What would you be doing? As a fan of speculative fiction, I enjoy pondering the worlds, societies, and species that may exist in the future. If I could, I’d travel to the year 2270 and become a librarian all over again. My practical skills may be outdated, but some traits are universal: an abiding curiosity, a willingness to problem-solve, and a passion for helping people. If the librarian gig falls through, I guess I’d become a starship captain.
4. What is the most memorable thing you’ve read in the past year and why? This is a two-way tie for me. The first is Michel Faber’s “The Book of Strange New Things,” which is one of those books I re-read occasionally and recommend often. It’s a meditative and subtly powerful story about the difference between faith and belief, how we connect and relate across long distances and alien linguistics, which are a few of my favorite things.
The other book is “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Reading it was challenging; it made me face several uncomfortable truths about the world and about myself. I started underlining passages in my copy of this book but stopped when I realized that I was underlining almost every word.
5. What are the greatest challenges facing the Tigard Library in the next five years? There is a pervasive misconception that libraries are no longer relevant because technology and information are so readily available. However, our patrons rely on us not only for books they want to read but for access to the internet, programs, story times and special spaces, like our bustling new Teen Scene and our peaceful Houghton Room – unique resources for our community that are freely available to all. In the face of this misconception, adequately funding all the resources we want to provide can be challenging.
Also challenging, is how our library workers and librarians are sometimes asked to address social service needs without formal training as social workers. Developing and maintaining key partnerships with community organizations that can best support these social service needs will be crucial.
6. What do you do for fun when you’re not reading? I have an excess of hobbies and interests, and a dearth of time to spend on them, which is an enjoyably frustrating way to live. But my favorite pastime since I learned how to read has been writing short stories, especially those I get to perform for live audiences. Unlike most people I know, I love public speaking. I also love talking about our wonderful library, so the next time you visit, please say hello!
Mayra Guerra, Adult Services Librarian
Get To Know…Mayra Guerra, Adult Services Librarian
Mayra is an Adult Services reference librarian who has worked at Tigard for 3½ years. She is also a bilingual librarian fluent in Spanish and selects materials for the library’s philosophy, psychology and pure science collections, as well as Spanish language fiction and nonfiction. Mayra also selects DVDs and Blu-rays and plans some of the library’s programs.
1. Why did you decide to become a librarian? When I first started library school, I was interested in becoming an archivist and the goal was to find a job at a museum or film archive. That changed when I took two internships: one at a special library in a museum and the other at a public library. I instantly fell in love with public librarianship! I loved working and connecting with the people of the community as well as the social work aspect of the field. I then decided to focus my studies on public librarianship.
2. Why is it important for the Tigard Library to offer services and programs for Spanish-speaking patrons? One of the many wonderful things about public libraries is that everyone is welcome. And that is especially true at the Tigard Library. By offering services and programs to our Spanish-speaking patrons, we are letting them know that we see them, we recognize their needs and we acknowledge that they are a part of the Tigard community.
3. What do you like most about working at Tigard Library? Two things: the wonderful Tigard community and my colleagues!
4. Describe a memorable moment on the job. Why did it have an effect on you? Instead of just picking one, my favorite moments are when I interact with a patron who has either never set foot in a public library before or hasn’t visited one in years. I enjoy sharing with them all the wonderful things we have to offer from books (of course), to movies, video games, music CDs, programs & story times, computer classes and so much more! It’s a great feeling being able to share the various resources we have to offer and to know that, in many cases, these resources have a positive impact in our patrons’ lives.
5. What do you like to read? Can you share a title that you discovered while working here and describe why you enjoyed it? I am drawn to books written by and about people who come from diverse backgrounds. That goes for both fiction and nonfiction. My favorite writers are Sandra Cisneros, Yuri Herrera, Han Kang and Ta-Nehisi Coates, just to name a few. I was blown away by the debut novel There, There by Tommy Orange; it was easily my favorite novel that I read last year. Set in Oakland, California, the story follows 12 characters of various generations, all of whom are Native American, as they make their way to a big Oakland powwow. The story is powerful and heartbreaking, and the writing is gorgeous. I found myself wanting to highlight entire sections of the book so that I could go back and re-read them.
Stephen Hughes, Senior Library Assistant
Get To Know…Stephen Hughes, Senior Library Assistant
1. What is your position and what do you do at the library? How long have you worked at Tigard? Senior Library Assistant. Primarily I act as a resource for the Circulation Staff. I assist them with anything they need help with – especially with tricky issues or situations. I help staff figure out how to accomplish tasks and projects around the department, and then work along side them to get things done. I keep the workflow moving, and I try to provide the finest customer service I can. All-in-all I work hard to make this a place that people love to work at and the public love to visit. I do my part in making sure the circulation meets its thematic goal of having “Happy patrons with the materials they seek.”
Nuts-and-bolts or day-to-day: I oversee the daily department tasks to make sure they are completed in an accurate and timely manner. I make sure all our service points are adequately staffed with personnel that are well trained and informed. I direct the work of our volunteers as well as making sure they know how important they are to the library and the community at large. I compile and maintain reports. I maintain the accuracy the library database. I sit on various committees and do associated committee work. I manage or assist in a multitude of department projects. I pitch in to get materials checked-in, materials shelved, and assist patrons at our service desk. I do all that in-between work that is hard to articulate.
2. Why did you seek a job in the library? Doesn’t everyone want to work in the library? It is a place of community. A place of learning and enrichment. A place of fun and entertainment. Libraries are innovative. Libraries are progressive. Libraries help everyone. Libraries are necessary. Who wouldn’t want to be part of something like that? I knew I did. Tigard Library in particular excels in all these ways. Patrons comment on a regular basis that they commute from other areas because our library is so much better than the one near their home. I shared this sentiment, and when there came an opportunity to join the TPL team – I pounced!
3. What do you like most about working at the Tigard Library? Easy - The positivity. Everything that we take on, even though it can sometimes be difficult, has an ultimate purpose of doing good in this world. There is a spirit of grit too. To build up the community of Tigard, figurative brick by brick. To advance a culture of inclusivity with every interaction and every kind word. To bring cheer, with every purchase and program. To make peoples lives better, with every person heard and every answer found. The staff of the Tigard Library are the prototypical dedicated public servants who work tirelessly to make lives of people entering this building better, whether directly or indirectly, in any way we can. It is fulfilling, and we still manage to have a lot of fun along the way too!
4. Describe a memorable moment on the job. Why did it have an effect on you? I have had so many memorable interactions with the staff and patrons of Tigard Library that have shaped my experience here, but I want to talk about our volunteers. They not only give their time and energy but add so much to the culture and community that we have in this building. From the Friends organization who work tirelessly to raise funds for our programming and more, to our shelvers who quietly do the behind the scenes work making the library function – they are the heart and soul of the organization making Tigard Library what it is. I have been particularly inspired by one of our volunteers who was forced to flee his home country and make a new life here in Tigard. He has a full-time job as well as on-going odd jobs to make ends meet. But he still made it priority to contribute to his new community and put himself out there to make connections with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar place. I find his example admirable and his friendship valuable. He has given the perspective that we can rise to any challenge and do it with dignity and with joy. With selfless volunteers like him, and we have many, there is nothing that Tigard Library cannot accomplish.
5. If you could wave a magic wand and add one feature or service to the library, what would it be and why? A water slide from the second floor to the first floor. I kid! Water and books don’t mix too well, but it sure would be fun! Seriously though, I would love to see a music room and an art gallery. Two of the three goals of the Library Strategic Plan are to Stimulate Imagination and to Express Creativity. I believe having a music room where people can use library provided instruments and recording equipment would do just that. It would bring people together and introduce individuals to the joy of creating music, especially those who may not have the means to buy instruments, and the like, for themselves. Additionally, it seems natural for the public to display their art in one of the most publicly used spaces in the city. I personally would love to be exposed to more art, but that usually happens as a special occasion rather than part of everyday life. So, seeing new pieces whenever I visit the library would be enriching as well as provide a sense community identity. These things would improve quality of life for our citizenry and ties into the City’s vision “where people of all ages and abilities enjoy healthy and interconnected lives."
6. What do you like to read? Can you share a title that you have discovered while working here and describe why you enjoyed it? I like to read Biographies. I enjoy feeling inspired by the lives people have led and by the character they exhibit. Sci-fi & Fantasy books are my guilty pleasure. I feel like they are the ultimate escape as they take you to other worlds altogether. But my work for the City has involved pushing forward some Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives. As such, I have tried to self-educate and read some DEI books. One title that particularly moved me was, “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America” by Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson did not hold any punches and his sermon was quite convicting. It was also very hopeful and made me believe that concrete change is possible, and I personally have a role in it. I learned a ton and from this book and it made me eager to learn more. I’m enthusiastic about contributing to the City’s effort to be more inclusive and provide equitable services to our wonderfully diverse community.