Are you ready for a story about a storyteller? This week I talked to Claudia Haines’ at Homer Public Library and the past 18 years she’s spent here. However, the position of youth services librarian was posted by the City of Homer about a week ago and there are only two more weeks left for Miss Claudia. I start by asking her how she first connected to the library.
“It was right about the time the “new” library building plans were in place and I got a call from Joy Steward who was part of the Friends and the City of Homer Capital Campaign project, I applied for the job of friends coordinator and they offered me a position! I stayed in that position for four years, realized I had a really strong connection to libraries in general and decided to go to graduate school for my Master’s in Library Information Science. I completed it remotely through the University of Washington.”
Right after she started her MA, a position opened up at the Homer library, and she jumped at it. It gave her an opportunity to use the theoretical component of graduate school combined with the practical part of daily library involvement. Again, shortly after getting on general staff, the library story time coordinator and youth and YA librarian retired so she quickly took over those spots.
Before Homer, Claudia came to Alaska as a naturalist on some of the smaller tour boats that went between Seattle and some of the areas in South East, Alaska. Eventually, she moved to McCarthy, managed a guide service there and a friend recommended a move to Homer. She’s also worked at Two Sisters and the Homer News.
We talked next about the transition from the in-house child story time to the radio story time. “The transition was a lot smoother than I imagined. Partially, it was that the radio was so easy to work with but also because I’ve been doing story time for so long, I knew what I wanted: to support early literacy, create community connection and engagement.
She explained to me a really interesting transition in choice of texts and method of reading in the radio versus in-person story time. “A lot of the picture books that I’m sharing, on radio, are pretty text heavy but in-person there’s more of a balance between text and image. In fact, the youngest listeners might actually think we’re reading the pictures! On radio, I have to create more explanations of the pictures that they can’t see or set the stage with a longer introduction before reading.”
Another new component: the role of music. “I spend a lot of time looking for music and trying to find new musical artists that families might not know. There’s a lot out there! It’s not just Raffi.”
We talk about oral story telling a little more. “I’m taking a semester long course on podcasting for teens with educators from schools all around the state,” Claudia says. “Podcasting, in a way, is the evolution of oral storytelling. There are so many varieties to what it can provide: oral history, morals or lessons, or sharing stories that are complete fantasy. I’m really enjoying this new look, a new perspective on story telling traditions.”
So, she may be moving on from the library and not sure what’s next but obviously still actively involved in how literature and stories are shared with youth. It’s clear from our last few moments of discussion that she’s proud of what the Homer library offers to local youth at all levels. She mentions the attention of the lap sitters in the child room, but also some memories of young adults. The library offers some alternatives to what the school provides and it’s a place where sometimes they can explore on their own. “I have really enjoyed watching the youth pass through here, with different challenges at different ages, and become healthy adults. It’s been really nice to see that.”
Thank you, for all you have done to support the community of Homer, Miss Claudia!