Newsletter of the Association of Library and Information Science Students (ALISS)





Vol VII Issue VI

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Information Professional Spotlight
A Talk with Chance Hunt, Youth Services Coordinator at Seattle Public Library

By Cheri Streby
One of the more interesting and useful classes that I have had the opportunity to take here at the Information School has been Children’s Materials: Evaluation and Use. I have been fortunate enough to take the class this autumn quarter from Chance Hunt, the Youth Services Coordinator for Seattle Public Libraries. All throughout the quarter, Chance’s knowledge and enthusiasm for children’s literature, in addition to his genuine interest and caring in the development of children, have set an example of what it takes to be an outstanding children’s librarian.

Chance received his Masters of Librarianship, as it was called at the time, in the fall of 1992 here at the University of Washington. He has also spent his entire library career in the Seattle area, first with the King County Library System and now with Seattle Public. Because of his background as both a student and now an instructor in the MLIS program here at the UW, and his career in librarianship with both KCLS and SPL, I thought that it would be interesting to talk with Chance and find out more about his job and children’s librarianship.

Talk about the career path to your current job.

I started as a children's librarian in Issaquah for the King County Library System--many fond memories of wonderful families that I got to know, and the great branch staff that taught me so much. Next, I was an outreach librarian which took me on the road all over King County delivering story time and library resources to child care centers, presenting training workshops, and coordinating deposit collections for day camp groups. When I started my current job I was responsible for managing the Central Library Children's Room and managing children's collection development for the system as well. Now, as Youth Services Coordinator, I have swapped old responsibilities for new ones. Overall it has felt like a very logical path, and I have felt very fortunate to have had the opportunities presented to me along the way.

Talk about a typical day at work.

As the Youth Services Coordinator, I am responsible for library services for children and teens for the entire city. Fortunately, we have a strong group of children's and young adult librarians, as well as selection and program specialists, to deliver an amazing amount of work to the public.

Every day is different--so a typical day is hard to come by. Much of my time is focused on advocating for quality service for youth whether it's in library policy development, representing the Library at City Hall, developing partnerships with the schools or youth agencies, or brainstorming summer reading program--all of these projects require me to think about the best ways to deliver service and to seek opportunities to expand The Seattle Public Library's reach into the community.

What do you like best about your job?

That I have the chance to do something positive for children and teenagers every single day. There's nothing more important, in my opinion.

Talk about some of the challenges in your job.

One of my personal challenges is to be patient. Public libraries are faced with a variety of demands, and often times fighting for tight budget dollars, so I can't do everything I would like to do as fast as I would like. I am learning to appreciate the long-term view and celebrate the small steps towards the big impacts that libraries are so capable of making.

What do you feel are some of the necessary skills for a children’s librarian?

First – they have to have a sincere interest and caring in the development of children. Children's librarians show this in a variety of ways and through their many talents, but you can't fake it when it comes to caring about kids.

I think the ability to prioritize and make choices is an underrated virtue. It's ok to focus on two to three key service areas to build your strengths in as a librarian. We have wonderful colleagues, and it's when we work together that we serve the kids best. Saying no is not a bad thing, especially if you need to spend some time with an overlooked group in your community.

A great immune system doesn't hurt either – the cold and flu bugs find children's librarians very quickly!

In your opinion, what is the job outlook for MLIS grads, especially in the Seattle area?

The job outlook is bright in my opinion. There are a number of school districts and public libraries that seek out MLIS librarians to staff their buildings. Our communities want children's librarians to serve their children – there will always be jobs. I look forward to interviewing new grads because they come with a whole host of skills and ways of problem solving that will be essential to keep our libraries strong well into the future.

And finally, how do you feel about Captain Underpants?

When you can combine comics, humor, and action in such an imaginative way, you have the chance of exciting a new reader every time – and let's face it, superheroes rock!