Spoiler alert: Storytime is back at West Slope Library! The library recently welcomed its new Youth Services Librarian, Carrie Stotts, who is excited to resume in-person storytime and spruce up the children’s room. Get to know Carrie in this Q&A. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
WCCLS: What inspired you to become a librarian?
Carrie Stotts: My background is in social work. Working primarily with children taught me that I wanted to center my career around child development. I worked at a domestic violence shelter doing case management with mothers and co-directing the children’s program. We offered programming for all ages, from infants to high schoolers, such as after-school study groups and special events like trick-or-treating.
After that I worked as child development specialist at a psychiatric day treatment center for elementary school-aged kids. The center closed due to a lack of funding. I decided to take that as an opportunity and take a step back from social work and think about where I wanted my career path to take me. Serving in social work taught me that I wanted to work in public service, but the vicarious trauma I was experiencing at the time didn't feel emotionally sustainable.
I also worked as a nanny, and taking kids to the local storytime introduced me to the magic of youth programming at public libraries. I connected with the librarians, who told me about getting a master’s degree and encouraged me to volunteer. I began volunteering at one of the Multnomah County Library branches until the pandemic started.
The more time I spent in public libraries, the more it confirmed that becoming a librarian was the right decision for me. In the meantime, I was still working as a nanny where I saw the myriad of benefits of reading aloud to kids every day. I became really passionate about nurturing early childhood literacy.
Partway through my Master of Library Science program, I accepted a librarian position at an elementary school. I think of this experience as a sort of librarian boot camp! As the sole staff member in the library, it was my responsibility to circulate books for the whole school, host classes in the library each week, select, order, process, and repair books for the collection, and coordinate the OBOB program and Scholastic Book Fair. This gave me a great experience of and appreciation for all of the roles required in running a library, and I especially loved building relationships with the students.
WCCLS: What is one of the things you’re most excited about doing at West Slope Library?
CS: I’m very excited to bring back storytime! We’re planning to resume storytime in September. I think the community is really hungry for that. We’re starting with one weekly family storytime for ages 5 and under.
I’m also excited about redecorating the children’s room to make it more child-friendly and inviting. I want it to be a super welcoming space. I’m also prioritizing getting programming started for school-aged kids, whether that’s elementary school or tweens and teens. We’re really hoping to keep kids engaged after they’ve outgrown storytime.
WCCLS: What is your favorite children’s book?
CS: A book called Julián is a Mermaid written and illustrated by Jessica Love. Not only is the writing great, but the illustrations are also striking and beautiful. It’s a book that offers important representation. I wish it had been around when I was a child.
WCCLS: How do you enjoy spending your free time?
CS: For the past year and a half, I’ve been getting into gardening. I built a couple raised garden beds. I also tilled up some in-ground beds. I love vegetable gardening, growing some of my own food. I love writing, especially poetry and participating in poetry reading nights. I have self-published some work. I also love being outdoors whether it’s gardening or hiking or camping.
WCCLS: What would you do if you weren’t a librarian?
CS: I was on track to be a therapist, specifically focusing on child therapy through play. If I hadn’t made the decision to take a step back from social work, I would have gotten my master’s and license to do play therapy. We weren’t play therapists at the day treatment center, but we incorporated elements of play therapy – I saw how remarkably impactful it was.
Check the calendar for storytimes and other family-friendly events.