This week’s interviewee is Nina Emlen, one of the newest members to the library’s staff.
Why did you decide to become a librarian?
I graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in Music History. I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and found I wasn’t really qualified for most jobs, including working at Starbucks. I ended up as a nanny, and during this time I kept thinking, “I wish I was a librarian!” Finally one day it dawned on me: I am young and this is the time in my life when I need to make things happen for myself. Then I applied to grad school, got in, and the rest is history.
You went to Pratt University to get your Masters in Library Science. What was the best aspect of experience?
I would say that the most beneficial classes I took at Pratt were the classes where I read and read and read. In the children’s and young adult literature classes I took we read about 3 books a week and it really helped me feel immersed in the world of the kids with whom I was interacting. Another great experience was taking an art librarianship class which met every week in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s library. The most enriching aspect of my grad school experience was meeting so many enthusiastic librarians, both students and teachers, and spending day after day exploring how libraries can change people’s lives.
You also worked in the New York Public Library system in New York. That must have been crazy busy at times…what was it like?
While I was at Pratt I worked full time at New York Public Library. It was crazy busy! Our neighborhood branch (1 of almost 100 in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island) on the Upper West Side served about 30,000 people a month. This meant the phone rang off the hook, there were constant lines 10 people long at circulation, and yes, we had to call the police from time to time. It also meant that there were endless opportunities to help people. The library was a true haven for some, and a myriad of information and resources for all.
What is one big difference between working at NYPL and working at EPL?
Something that will always impress me about smaller libraries is that you can find new and popular items checked in and on the shelf. EPL is a great balance between a busy, urban library and a small-town, quiet library.
What is your favorite book, favorite author, and favorite genre?
Three of my favorite books of all time are “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “His Dark Materials Trilogy” by Philip Pullman and “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obreht. “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “The Tiger’s Wife” both use lush, beautiful writing and magical realism to tell meaningful stories about families. “His Dark Materials” uses fantasy to ask big questions about religion and the fight of good against evil.
Thanks, Nina! Welcome to the Ellsworth Public Library 🙂