Monday, April 1, 2013

Meet Your YSS Board! Ellen Jepson

Ellen Jepson is the School Age Specialist Librarian at the Appleton Public Library, and we are lucky to have her expertise and insight to draw on as a YSS Member-at-Large! To see a sample of her work with kids, check out the video of A Mother for Choco:  the Musical, which was created as part of a five week program.  Each week, Ellen taught the participants how to retell a story, which they then retold through music. 

What drew you to librarianship?  And after that, what made you decide to get involved in YSS?
Honestly I became a librarian because my undergraduate degree was in Linguistics which required a master’s degree to get a job, and I didn’t want to continue in Linguistics.  I decided to go to library school instead.  

I spent four year on the WLA's Literary Awards Committee (LITA)--one year as co-chair and two years as sole chair.  After that I wanted to stay active in WLA but in a smaller leadership role, since being chair of LITA required hours upon hours of work each week.  I also wanted to be active in a section that was more related to my specialty as school age specialist librarian, so YSS was a natural fit.

What is your sure-fire trick for getting kids (of any age you choose) back on track when they are distracted during a program?
I do both preschool and school age programs.  I have the preschoolers trained well.  I have a set of harmonic bells.  When I hit C, E, G, that means it is time to calm down and go sit in their caregiver’s lap, or if they are with their childcare center to sit quietly on the floor.  With the school-agers, almost universally students recognize the "clap clap, clap clap clap" rhythm, which gets their attention.  I usually don’t have trouble keeping school-agers engaged once a program has started.  

Where do you go for inspiration for your library work? 
I come up with lots of ideas at 3 am.  I have some favorite library websites that I go to regularly to see what kind of school age programs they are offering.  I’ve noticed that most libraries don’t list the specific field trips they offer for students like APL does, just that they offer tours and welcome school groups.  So my supervisor and I came up with all of the ideas for our field trips ourselves.  I’m very proud of the Passport to the Library program that I offer for first grade.  

What do you do to re-fuel when you aren’t at work?
When I’m not at work?  What does that mean?  I’m a workaholic in a the truest sense of the word. 

If you could meet any book character or author, who would you meet, and what would you do together?
My favorite book series is the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace and a highlight of my life was going on a pilgrimage to Mankato, MN and seeing Betsy’s and Tacy’s houses IN PERSON.  

If you had 20 more hours in your week, how would you spend it?
At work or going to concerts by They Might Be Giants around the country.

What do you love about your job?
Seeing the wonder and excitement in the eyes of the children when they enter the library for the first time.  Finding the right book for the right child.  Field trips!

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