On the Shelf with Holly Kuhlman, Library Clerk
By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: March 25, 2013
Holly Kuhlman is the exuberant library clerk whom you can find amidst the shelves of the library at Glenwood Elementary School in San Rafael, California. This fabulous lady is more than capable of placing the right book in the right hands at the right time.
We’re honored to shine the spotlight on our first library clerk for TCBR’s “On the Shelf column” and we know you’ll enjoy her book suggestions.
Why did you choose to be a library clerk?
Years ago I was a credentialed Special Ed teacher for learning disabled high school students. After my children were born, I volunteered at their elementary school (Glenwood) running the art program. When the school librarian was leaving, the principal asked if I was interested in the position. Since I had been running an Art & Literature summer camp for years, it seemed like an appropriate fit. It has become one of my most rewarding jobs.
Librarians and library clerks are the ultimate evangelists for reading. How do you encourage students to read?
Sometimes being a ‘ham’ is appreciated. I read with expression to 20 classes a week (K– 5th graders), asking questions along the way to engage them. This school has a great love of reading already, so I like to change things up. I pick stories which are NOT popular now but are excellent. I find titles which I loved as a kid and the students find that oldies can be goodies! Some titles are: Homer Price (McCloskey), The Sword in the Tree (Bulla), and Martin’s Mice (King-Smith). Also, every Halloween I go as a book from that year, such as Knuffle Bunny (Willems), Mercy Watson (DiCamillo), etc.
Which kids’ book is the most frequently checked-out?
Every library would probably say the Wimpy Kid books (Kinney). When it first came out, I tried reading it to the 5th graders. I laughed so long and hard, that a student had to grab the box of tissues! I realized that Kinney’s series is one which readers can enjoy by themselves! Popular now are the Jack Stalwart series (Singer-Hunt), Tin-Tin (Herge), and the Ivy & Bean series. Also, the Harry Potter craze has boomed again, with students who were too young before. It’s interesting that each title mentioned is a series!
What is your favorite read-aloud for a preschool story-time?
Our school doesn’t have a Pre-School, but if it did, I’d read Snail Where Are You? (Ungerer), Boy & Bot (Dyckman), Ten Oni Drummers (Gollub), and Don’t Fidget a Feather (Silverman). These books are fun, engaging, and good to talk about afterwards.
What steps do you take to strengthen the relationship between the school library and the community?
The San Rafael City Schools’ libraries are in jeapardy. The elementary district hasn’t had a real Librarian (with MLS) in many years. Each elementary/middle school library is run by a Library Clerk. We are funded by parcel taxes and by a grass-roots organization called HeadsUp which has held a district-wide “Run for Reading” fundraiser for the last 4 years. (By the way, we vote this May to renew this Parcel Tax. Please vote YES!)
Could you tell us one thing about libraries that you think would be surprising?
Something surprising at this library is that I SING books to one of my classes! A County Special Ed Class (Autistic) comes in weekly. At first when I read to them, they’d hum or cover their ears or get up to leave. The Special Ed teacher brought in a CD once to play here, before the story. They were attentive and happy…until I started reading the story! I decided to sing storybooks from then on. Their faces light up and it’s a joy to see this change in their demeanor and attitude.
Do you know or are you a special librarian that deserves a moment under the spotlight in our “On the Shelf” column? Contact us, we’d love to hear from you!