Behind Closed Doors Part 4: The Librarians

Emma and Mariah are Topsham Public Library’s fine librarians. Let me give you a peek into their world.

Mariah is our children’s librarian which means she does pretty much whatever is going on in the children’s department. She reads reviews and orders the books for the entire children’s department including the parenting items. She also works with the community at large and coordinates with the elementary schools for visits and literacy programs, and she picks the books that go in the bus book bag program.

Mariah also handles the Children’s Facebook page and runs the children’s page of our website. She plans the summer reading program, and all of the other kids programs that we host year round like the storytimes to book clubs, to drop-in art projects. That is about 150 programs each year!

There are two things Mariah enjoys the most: participating in the programs with the kids and helping young readers find just the right book for them.

As the children’s librarian, Mariah not only plans the programs, but also joins in on the action. She says, “There is nothing that immediately makes your day better than a baby laughing during the spinning rhyme, or a whole room of preschoolers hanging on every word of a story. I love the fact that my actual job includes me pretending at times to be a dinosaur. It really doesn’t get any better than that!”

When a child is looking for just the right book, or isn’t too sure about reading at all, Mariah loves helping them to find that next read. When she is asked for help in choosing a book for a child, Mariah asks the reader a few questions to gather some clues about what they like, “and then the look on their face when I find a book that they can’t wait to read (sometimes they start reading in the library and walk out the door with their face in the book), finding whatever it is that sparks their imagination and makes them curious – makes me feel so lucky,” she says.

Emma, if you don’t know who Emma is just listen for the British accent, is our Adult Services Librarian and her job entails anything that relates to providing library services to the adults of Topsham. From collection development, buying books and other materials, creating and collating online resources to organizing and presenting programs and events, answering reference questions, recommending books and helping people use technology, she gets to wear many hats in her role. She is also the “keeper” of the library’s message and voice, meaning that she oversees all of Topsham Public Library’s PR efforts including press releases, social media outlets, and our website.

There are many things that Emma loves about this job: she works with great people, she comes to the library and helps people every day, she has a wide purview that is always challenging and fun. For example, she says, “When I am at work, sometimes I am listening to Bowdoin’s Artists of Tomorrow play, or I could be engaged in a lively book discussion, and I am amazed that I get paid to do this!” Emma loves that she works in a place that is open and available to everyone from the tiniest baby to the teen to the oldest adult and they each are just as important to us. She considers this the community’s living room, “where everyone can come and hang out at a place that isn’t work or home and you don’t have to buy anything.”

Emma’s absolute favorite part of her job is choosing what books and resources go in Topsham Public Library’s collection. The community of Topsham is always at the forefront of her mind – what books do they want to read, who are the most popular authors, what informational resources do the people of Topsham need the most? Emma is thrilled when people come here and mention a book that someone suggested but they can’t remember the title or maybe they can’t remember the author or they only have a vague recollection of what the book is maybe about, and she knows exactly what they’re talking about and can show them where it is on the shelf. Emma is a firm believer in the transformative power of stories and literacy, including computer literacy, and that conviction is what keeps Emma engaged in and enjoying her work here at Topsham Public Library.

My only fear in what I have written about Mariah and Emma is that I have not explained well enough what hard work they do and the dedication these two have in their work. Emma has a Masters in Library Science and Mariah will soon to be receiving hers as well (This is her final semester!). They certainly do enjoy their work, but have no doubt, they work very hard to bring Topsham Public Library the best.