An Interview with an Awesome Librarian


This week, April 10-16 2016, is National Library Week.   Hurrah for libraries!  We love our library; it is one of the top three places you can probably find the Yusten family.  It is as much of treat to go to the library as heading to a park to play.  My kids love it.  Besides just going to the library to check out books, we request a ton of books online for them to hold for us.  At any given time we probably have at least 30 books checked out and the kids gobble them up….and then we head back for more.


Since we appreciate our library and the staff that works there so very much, we decided to interview one of our favorite librarians, the awesome Ms. Katherine.


Graciously, Ms. Katherine, Assistant Youth Services Librarian, accepted our request for an interview and we were very excited.  We put on our “reporters hats” and started brainstorming our questions.  When the day came, the kids grabbed their clipboards and were ready to head off on official Rainbow Radish business to get the scoop.


I had told Ms. Katherine that we wouldn’t take up much of her time.  Well, turned out to be far from the truth, as we wrapped up the interview over an hour later.  We did have a great time, got a behind-the-scenes look at the library, and learned new things.  Here is our interview; hopefully, you will enjoy it and learn something new too.



What is your favorite book?

It is hard to choose.  I do like especially like mysteries.


I think when we asked this question, we pretty much already knew the answer.  Of course if you ask a librarian what her favorite book is…she will say, “It’s hard to choose.”  I suppose it is like asking a chef what his favorite food is; there are so many amazing options.


What is your favorite color?

Green.  It reminds me of things being new and fresh.


What inspired you to become a librarian?

I have loved books since I was a little kid.  When I found a job that combined books and kids, I knew it was the job for me!


tRR 2016-04-07 E and Em in boat at the library


What are some things you really love about working at a library?

Book and kids.  It’s fun to meet everybody.  I like helping kids find books.  I like that it is sort of like a puzzle because everyone likes different things, and we try and find a good match for everybody.




What are some of your responsibilities….what does a typical day look like for a librarian?

You never know what you might do today.  Besides helping kids and families, we have story times that need to be put together and get reading programs to plan.  We actually prepare for the summer program all year long because there is so much to be done.


I also read a lot of reviews and research what books we might want to add to the library.  We also need to weed out books sometimes.  Weeding books is just like weeding in your garden.  We take the books that are well worn or falling apart off the shelves, as well as books that just are not being checked out.  Can you imagine if we just kept adding books and never took any out?  We’d run out of room.


When books get weeded, those books often head to the book sales held occasionally at the library.  Sometimes, though, they are able to work with Better World Books, to send books to other areas of the country in need, as well as other countries that don’t have the resources.  That way even more people can benefit, learn, and enjoy.  Isn’t that awesome?!


How many “categories” of books are there?  How do you organize them?  What is the Dewey Decimal system?  (Will the same book have the same number in every library?)

Well, there are two big categories.  Do you know what those are?  Fiction and Non-Fiction.  (Yes, we nailed it.) Then within the fiction category, you will find the books listed under the first three letters of the author’s last name.  You will also find stickers on the bindings of some of the books, in the children’s area, to help easily recognize what genre it belongs in.  For example, a magnifying glass sticker is on a mystery book or a unicorn sticker is on a fantasy book.


Non-fiction books are set up in categories within the Dewey Decimal system.  The Dewey Decimal system is the most widely used way to categorize books in a library.  It’s not the only way, but it is what we use. 


Yes, if a library uses the Dewey Decimal system, the number will be the same for each particular book. 

tRR 04-07-16 Em with library puppets

What are some of the programs and activities the library offers?

  • Reading Programs
  • Mini Reading Programs
  • Reading Programs for Adults
  • Story Times
  • Summer Programs
  • Youth Choice Book Awards (vote for your favorite book)
  • Tours of the library
  • Teen Programs
  • Performers and Speakers
  • Movies


We also have a great, Friends of the Library group; they are individuals that help with fundraisers for the library.  They put on book sales.  They also provide media equipment for the large meeting rooms and the headphones for our Children’s Area.  The statue in our reading garden was funded by the Friends of the Library, as well.


Speaking of the garden (Which is an actual garden, outside.  It is very pretty and welcoming.) the impetus(Force or Energy.  Yes, I had to look this word up.   Librarians have a large vocabulary.) and design for the garden came from the library.  The Friends of the Library paid for the statue.  The City of Onalaska paid for everything else.  And this beautiful garden couldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the Master Gardeners, a group of committed volunteers who agreed to care for and maintain the plants and flowers throughout the year. 


tRR 2016-04-07 kids on library bench


We just realized that kids can submit artwork to be displayed in the children’s area of our library.  Can you share more on that?

Ms. Karen, our Youth Services Coordinator, has a lot of great ideas.   One day a kid brought in an art project to show us.  He had made it from one of the craft books that he had checked out.  Ms. Karen thought that could be a fun way for other kids to share too.   So, if kids create something from one of the craft or project books from the library, we’ll display it for a while.


tRR 2016-04-07 Belle at the computer at the library

  • Puppets
  • Music CDs
  • Movies
  • Family Fun Bags
  • Magazines
  • Audio Books
  • Teen Area
  • Teacher Kits (with multiple copies of a single book for book clubs)
  • Use of Computers
  • Meeting Rooms and Study Rooms
  • Safe place for people to gather
  • Outreach – is a program where volunteers take books to individuals that are not able to actually get to the library. (That’s fantastic!)


You can pick up tax forms and even purchase local bike passes, too.  I also love to check out the well-organized bulletin board of local events and activities.  A whole other, amazing, section encompassed within the library is the Onalaska Area Historical Society Museum.


tRR 2016-04-07 O at the library


How many books are in our library?

Thousands and thousands





How many patrons visit on a typical day?

The number of patrons that visit the library in a day is tabulated by the Check Out staff each night.  It can be hard to tell the specific number of people that visit the Children’s Area though.  Of course days when performers are here or story times are being held are a lot busier.


How can we, and others, help our library?

The biggest thing you can do to help our library is to use it.  Use it and tell other people about the importance of it.  There are also volunteer opportunities for those interested.


We had a really nice time talking with Ms. Katherine.  We always do.  It makes our visits to the library extra nice when she is there.  We are very fortunate to have a wonderful, warm, safe, and inviting library.  The staff, not only in the children’s area, but in the entire library is very welcoming, kind, and helpful.  Of course, while it is respectful to be quiet and courteous while visiting a library, I appreciate (as Ms. Katherine puts it…) that our library is not a “Shushing” library.


So, thank you to all librarians, library staff, and library volunteers.  We appreciate all your efforts in making our libraries and learning experiences great!

Of course, all these answered are based on our local library.  I’m sure your library offers some fantastic opportunities as well.  What are some of your favorite things about the library?



“I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.”

~Laura Bush


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