On the Shelf with Librarian Cathy Potter
The Children’s Book Review
Published: September 17, 2013
Cathy Potter is a school librarian at Falmouth Elementary School in Falmouth, Maine. She serves on the Chickadee Award committee, the 2014 Sibert Medal committee, and she co-authors The Nonfiction Detectives blog: http://www.nonfictiondetectives.com/. You can also find her online at these fun places: Twitter (@cppotter) and her school library Web site: http://mrspotter.edublogs.org/
TCBR is so happy to shine the spotlight on Cathy Potter!
Bianca Schulze: Why did you choose to be a librarian?
Cathy Potter: I was a 5th and 6th grade teacher for twelve years, and during that time I collaborated a lot with the school librarian. I loved teaching students how to research, and I’ve always been passionate about literature. In 2004 I decided to take a risk and go back to school to earn my Master’s of Library Science degree; it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
BS: Librarians are the ultimate evangelists for reading. How do you encourage students and children to read?
CP: The most effective way to encourage children to read is through face-to-face interactions in the library and in classrooms. I love to give book talks, and I show a lot of book trailers to my students. I also offer a Mock Newbery book club, host author events, and organize Skype author visits throughout the year. Last year I started “focus groups” in the library. Teachers send five or six students to the library at an arranged time. We sit around a table, and I booktalk piles of books that I have pre-selected for those readers. Each student leaves with books and a list of books to check out in the future. It’s been a big hit with readers.
BS: Which kids’ or teen book is the most frequently checked-out in your library? Why do you think it is?
CP: Smile by Raina Telgemeier was our most checked-out book last year. It was on our state book award list a few years ago, and it’s still really popular. Kids love reading graphic novels, and Smile is a middle grade coming-of-age story that really resonates with both boys and girls.
BS: Which new releases are you dying to lay your hands on?
BS: Could you tell us one thing about librarians or libraries that you think would be surprising?
CP: Working in a library involves very little sitting. It’s very physical and sometimes dusty. The job involves lifting boxes, adjusting shelves, carrying iPads, and moving bookcases. I also spend a lot of time on my feet helping patrons and delivering books to students and teachers when I’m not teaching classes.
BS: I’m sure that you are asked many interesting questions on a daily basis. What would you say has been the most entertaining question asked of you by a parent or a child?
CP: A Kindergarten student asked me if I was the author of Peter Rabbit. We had been reading The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and with a name like Mrs. Potter he thought I might be Beatrix.
BS: If you could be any fictional character from children’s literature, who would it be? Why?
CP: I would like to be Hermione Granger because she is able to maintain straight A’s while fighting trolls and death eaters. In real life, I was exactly like Ramona Quimby as a child. I even had a Ramona haircut.