Linda Simpfendorfer, The Head of Children’s Services Librarian at Livingston Public Library
By: Amy Rowland, Summit Short Hills Macaroni Kid and Linda Simpfendorfer, Livingston Public Library
If you want to inspire children to have a love of reading, the library is a great place to start. All of our local libraries offer great programing throughout the school year. One program is the summer reading program to encourage kids to continue reading during the long break from school. Amy Rowland and I are interviewing some of our local reading crusaders. We encourage you to read about these wonderful librarians and then stop in and introduce yourself, they are there for you.
The next wonderful librarian Amy Rowland had the pleasure of interviewing was Linda Simpfendorfer, The Head of Children’s Services Librarian at Livingston Public Library. Linda offers wonderful programs for children including storytimes, book clubs and special events.
Q: How long have you been with the library and how long have you been a Librarian?
A: I’ve been with the Livingston Library for about seven years and I’ve actually been a librarian for over twenty years. I started as a Library assistant because I needed a job and it sounded like such fun. Once I got there and started working at the library I thought, “Wow! This is what I want to be when I grow up.” I got the job, received my MLS (Masters of Library Science), and I became a full time children’s librarian. It’s been a real joy working with children, introducing them to books, doing storytime, and presenting different programs to them. It truly is a wonderful job.
Q: What programming does your library offer?
A: We have many great programs here for all ages. We have storytimes for newborns, with nursery rhymes, books, and songs. Towards the end of the storytime, I play music and blow bubbles. Not only is it fun for the children but it’s really great for the parents too. It’s a time when the parents can learn the rhymes and have an opportunity to interact and bond with their child. You’d be amazed how the little babies’ attention focuses on me. They will follow my voice, look at me, smile and giggle. It’s all very sweet. We have programs for all ages. There are special storytimes for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, kindergartners and first graders. We have book discussion groups for children in second and third grade, fourth and fifth, and sixth grade and up. We have family nights, storytellers, and traveling theater groups come and perform for us. Right now, what’s different about our summer reading program is that the children come in and report on the books that they read. They each have a reading log, which they bring with them when they visit the library each week. We play a little board game with each child during which they roll the dice and land on questions such as, “Who is your favorite character?” and “Did the story have a happy ending?”. It is a fantastic way for the children to have an opportunity to open up and discuss what they read.
Q: What are some of the most popular books this year?
A: This year Big Nate is very popular as is the Weird School series. Little girls love Pinkalicious and Fancy Nancy, and everyone seems to love books by Mo Willems. Of course, the Hunger Games is number one with the teens. Harry Potter has been discovered by a whole new generation of children. The Captain Underpants series is still very popular, as are The Dragon Slayer’s Academy, Rainbow Magic, and Ready Freddy.
Q: What advice would you give to parents to encourage them to read to their children?
A: Read to them. Just read to them. Start early! Some parents even start reading to their children when the child is in the womb. Always have books available. Bring them to the library, bring them to storytime, and talk to them. They need to hear the sounds of language. Some people wonder why parents bring their children to the library at such a young age. Studies have shown that it is in the first three years of a child’s life that they need to hear language. It is during this time that a child’s brain builds neural connections, enabling the child to learn more words in the future. This is a very important time in your child’s development.
Q: Has it been difficult to juggle work and being a parent?
A: Being a working parent is difficult. You do have to juggle work and spending time with your kids, but it is completely possible to make it work. One thing I used to do is bring home the books and the puppets that I planned to use for storytime and I’d say “I know you’re a little old for this but I want to tell you the story so you can tell me if you think the little kids will like it” We would have the neighborhood kids over and we would do storytimes together. It is difficult to have a job outside the home and be a parent, too. I guess, if you love your job and you love your kids you can figure out how to make it work.
Q: What’s the most rewarding part about being a children’s Librarian?
A: The most rewarding part of being a children’s librarian for me is the positive feedback I get from children and parents. For example, if I recommend a book for a child and they return smiling and telling me how much they loved the book, asking for another. I love getting to know the children and building a little relationship with them based on our interest in books. It is especially rewarding when parents tell me that I was an influence in getting their children to love reading.
Q: Is there anything that you want people to know about your library?
A: Join the Library and you can get a library card for your child at any age. They don’t need to know how to write their name, just apply for a library card. You can go onto our website and see the many different programs we have. We have programs for all ages, adults as well as children. We have thousands of books, DVDs, and books on CDs. Just come to the library and take advantage of everything the library offers. It’s all free!
Please stop by the library to say “hello” to Linda and her staff. Keep a look out for more events at the Livingston Public Library; they have programs for children of all ages. Thank you so much Linda for letting us learn all about you and your wonderful library!
Inspire your children to explore the world and encourage their creativity through a love of reading.