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Kids, books: a good match

And Sharon Snyder wants to bring more of them together.

Talking to Sharon Snyder, you can easily imagine her reading stories with a clear and expressive voice, or patiently listening as you explain what kind of book you want.

Snyder is the new young people’s librarian at the Bainbridge Library, taking over the role from Peggy Hughes, who is moving upstairs to the reference desk.

Snyder has weekly storytelling scheduled for toddlers and pre-schoolers, but hopes to bring stories to an even wider audience.

“I don’t want to forget school-age kids and teens,” she said. “Even grownups love books on tape. A library can foster that experience of story.

“It’s okay that you’re in junior high and still want to hear a story.”

Before coming to Bainbridge, Snyder worked as a library technical assistant in the King County library system at East Bellevue.

There, she managed the experimental “Library Connection @ Crossroads,” a junior branch of the Lake Hills branch inside a mall and community center complex. Library Connection targeted an under-served population living in several apartments and condominiums within walking distance of the center. Although not far from the full service Lake Hills branch, the opening of Library Connection increased circulation by 50 percent.

Some innovative programs included “Choice Reads,” where popular new paperbacks were on a no-hold system and thus available to whomever happened to get the book when it was in.

Snyder also assisted the chidren’s librarian at Lake Hill in the “Teen Escape Program,” in which the library was open every Friday until midnight for kids 12-19 years old. On busy nights, as many as 50 young people would show up for games, snacks or to just hangout.

Snyder thinks that for some, it was just a safe and positive environment. She fondly recalls one night playing a rollicking game of Go Fish with a pair of tough 17-year-old twins.

“It was like being on the front lines,” Snyder said, “(finding out) what works in Library Land.”

Working with the “Teen Escape Program” and accompanying another librarian on school visits, Snyder realized that she wanted to get involved with young people again. She was previously a teacher in grades six and seven.

“I have an affinity for that age group. I really love them,” Snyder said.

New degree

When the Bainbridge Library position opened up just as Snyder completed her master’s of library information science degree at UW this past December, she jumped.

“The overall sense of community that I sense here, and the extremely enthusiastic community support for the library and sharing (of) talents and skills is remarkable,” Snyder said. “I’m so pleased to be able to be a part of this.”

She is already well into her winter storytelling program for toddlers and pre-schoolers, which runs through the end of February.

Turnout for storytelling has been good, with 28 children with their parents showing up at a recent “Terrific Twos” session.

The next six-week storytelling session begins in late March. In May and June, Snyder will focus on school visits, visiting classes to talk about books and stories, and remind kids that they are welcome at the library.

One idea in the works is a seasonal family storytelling series in the evening for school-age children and their parents. Snyder says she is very interested in incorporating more storytelling into the programs.

“I’ve met exceptional storytellers – already! – on the island, and feel excited and motivated about them,” Snyder said. “There’s such rich resonance, power and possibilities in stories.

“You remember stories.”

Community Events, April 2014

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