Serving Her Young Readers
Wednesday, January 02, 2013 10:00 AM
A Trimble County resident combined two of her passions when accepting a job at the county's public library last year - working with children and sharing her love of reading.
Tera Simpson, head of Children Services at the Trimble County Public Library, talks about the planning necessary to make the library inviting and fun for the kids in the community. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Tera Simpson remembers visiting the public library during her childhood. Even though the children's section was small, she always found something of interest during her visits.
"I've always loved books," she said.
After substitute teaching at Bedford Elementary School for several years, Simpson decided she wanted to find a job working with kids that was a bit more permanent. With the addition of employees at the Trimble County Public Library, a position as the director of Children Services at the library opened, and Simpson applied. She began her first day on the job Valentine's Day 2012.
Simpson, 33, thought she knew what to expect from her new job. She figured that she would be helping children find a new favorite book. She knew there would be lots of time spent re-shelving books into their correct location.
A few other responsibilities have taken her by surprise. Simpson spends quite a lot of time outside the library building working in community outreach programs. She also spends much more time with other smaller tasks, like placing orders for books and staying current on new children's authors, than she expected. In fact, Simpson thought she might have some time to find a new favorite series for her personal reading from the other section of the library. That hasn't happened, she said.
"I've worked here one year, and I've read one book" from outside of the children's section, she said.
While Simpson found that children still enjoy the library and its treasures just as much as she did as a child, other aspects of the library have changed considerably.
The new Trimble County Public Library opened in September 2011, with more than two times the space of the old downtown building. The new building also features more room outside to host summertime and fall programs.
The children's section of the library has more room since the move to the new building, and the children's book selections and programming continue to grow with Simpson at the helm.
While there are many new children's book series, many of the old favorites remain popular.
In addition to Dr. Seuss' children's books, the adventures of Curious George and Amelia Bedelia books that have been favorites for decades, children also like newer books such as "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and the Bad Kitty series by Nick Bruel.
Most children enjoy the mischievous characters more than the books about wizards and witches that were popular just a few years ago. She's recently noticed the Harry Potter series isn't as popular as it once was, she said.
The children's section of the library also has increased the selection of books written in Spanish, as well as books for children with special needs.
"We're getting more visual things," she said.
The children's area in the library also has four computers just for younger children, with educational games that allow the children to learn about the computer keyboard and mouse. The four computers have touch-screen capabilities, which also allow children to learn hand-eye coordination while playing many of the games.
"They're so durable, we just love them," Simpson said of the computers.
And the children seem to love the computers as well - the library already had to replace one computer because of all of the use it received.
"They love touch-screen computers," she said, "but they have no idea about (e-readers). They still love the books."
Because of safety features on the computers - like no printing and no downloadable content from the internet - parents feel safe allowing children to play while they use computers and free wi-fi services or check out books from the other part of the library, Simpson said.
Parents also bring their children to the library to participate in the many programs offered throughout the month and for story time, which is offered two times each week.
Story time takes place most Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m., with about an hour of stories, games and crafts.
"We try to center around toddlers," she said. "I try to put in themes."
Sometimes the story time features books by the same author or in the same series, but she's learned that a few short books with activities mixed in throughout the hour help children pay better attention.
"They're attention span is about their age," she said.
Simpson also works to create the other events and programs for children at the library, and many of the programs take months to plan from beginning to end. After almost one year on the job, the amount of time for planning was a little unexpected.
"I didn't realize how much planning (took place)," Simpson said. "With a bigger building, our programs have expanded."
Just last month, the library hosted a "Trimble County Christmas" event with over 200 people in attendance for the two-hour program. Even though each program varies in attendance, quite a lot of the programs prove to be of interest for children and adults alike.
"Being a small town, there's not a lot of stuff to do," Simpson said. "I didn't realize how many people come out and utilize (the library)."