Tracey Reed Will Do Almost Anything to Get Your Kids to Read

Posted by Monica Hoel
Wearing underwear on her head is just part of the fun of her work.

Tracey Reed has the sort of smile that makes everyone feel comfortable in her presence – which is good because her goal is to create a welcome space.

She’s the Youth Services Coordinator at the Smyth County Public Library in Marion, and she spends a lot of energy doing whatever is necessary to make kids love the library. Crafts, games, story-time, chocolate Olympics, monsters, zombies – honestly, nothing is off the table. “If we can get them interested in the library as kids, they’ll grow up loving the library. And that also gets their parents in the doors.”

Tracey says the trick is simply to get people inside the library because that’s when they understand just how much the library has to offer everyone. The library isn’t just books anymore: it’s information, technology, social space, safe space, and, she points out, the last free space we have in our society. “No one wants you to buy anything; absolutely everything is free.”

But – we’re in a pandemic. So the library is closed to visitors. So what does a children’s librarian do? Pretty much the same work only curbside! She is assembling craft packets that families can pick up to do at home. She is doing story time online – even a personalized story time (“If you have a child who likes cows, we’ll find a book that works and read it to your child online!”) They even put the new books shelf up next to the window so folks can stop by and browse the selection safely.

And she is encouraging families to take advantage of “bundles.” Library patrons can call to ask for a bundle on a certain topic and the library staff will assemble a bundle of kids’ books, adult books, a video, and a reference book all on that topic. A family can spend a few days focusing on an interesting topic together from several vantage points. And next week, they can pick a new topic that someone else in the family wants to learn about. Then you can pick up the bundle curbside and be on your way.

Tracey laughs about how popular the curbside pick-up offering has been for patrons, and doubts the library will ever give that up going forward. It’s just another one of those wonderful services offered by your local library.

Enjoy a video of Tracey reading “On Account of the Gum.” You don’t have to have a kid in the room to enjoy it!

You can also enjoy a conversation with Tracey in the WEHC archives of “The Duck Pond Wall.”

  • Tracey Reed, E&H Class of 1998, recently put some underwear on her head to promote the day’s story time theme: books about underwear! Titles included were, Dinosaurs Love Underwear, Aliens in Underwear Save the Planet, and Veggies with Wedgies.

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