Working: Children??s librarian encourages exploration

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“This floor feels like the inside of my head,” the 32-year-old children’s technician said. It felt right the first time she interviewed in 2011.

“When I got home that night I told my boyfriend, ‘I have to work there. They have a guinea pig and a life-sized play castle,'” she said.

Since arriving 17 months ago, the fast-talking Eastport native has created a niche for herself as a go-to person for creating well-attended events. She’s also leading the effort to introduce more kids to technology.

Yet, she doesn’t have a librarian’s typical background. She never studied library science. And she cares little for the old school image of a librarian who spends her day shelving books and shushing kids.

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“Libraries aren’t like they used to be when we were kids,” she said.

Emery never planned to work in a library. Instead, she attended Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt. She earned her bachelor’s degree in “adventure recreation.”

The study aimed her at running skateboarding contests or helping people jump out of airplanes.

Yet, she felt the focus on helping people build teams and approaching things from new angles worked for her when she got her first job at a library in Ludlow, Vt.

“It actually is a really natural fit with libraries because libraries are no longer institutes with materials,” she said. “They’re really becoming organizations that are providing experiences to people.”

Since coming to Lewiston, she has helped run several events, including Sunday’s Martin Luther King Jr. supper and October’s “Star Wars Reads Day.”

More than 300 children and adults attended. They read, played games, and made “Star Wars” themed crafts.

Despite the event’s success, Emery still seems focused on reading.

She reads almost nonstop.

“I just feel like I’m this huge filter most of the time,” she said. “I have a stack of books next to my bed. And then there’s a stack in my living room. And in my car I probably have a couple of books and a book on tape.”

All that reading keeps her familiar with not only the popular books but with books that children might enjoy with a gentle nudge.

“I don’t claim to have read every book in here. And I think that’s good for kids to know,” she said. “I read books that I like and I keep up with the series that I like, and I’ll read some of what I don’t like, but I don’t feel like I have to finish everything up here.”

She is also working to create technology initiatives, but she has little worry about the death of books that are printed on paper and bound, rather than recorded or downloaded.

“There’s such a stir in the pot around whether e-books and audio books be the death of the physical book, and it’s never going to happen,” she said. “There’s nothing like picking up a book, and I have two e-readers and an iPhone. I like all mediums and I think anytime that you get people excited about literacy, you should embrace it.”

The message is in opening kids to discovery in whatever form works, she said.

“Being a librarian, that’s what it’s all about,” she said. “There’s an entire universe of possibilities that I’m able to show kids. Any question they have, I may not know the answer, but I know we can find it. And I think that’s just so exciting.”

dhartill@sunjournal.com

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