Molly Salisbury Interview
This is file #25, cycle 4. Today’s date is Sept. 12, 2019. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Molly Salisbury who is Children’s librarian at the Scoville Memorial Library. She is going to talk about her job and responsibilities there and she is also going to talk about SOAR and the program committee that she is on. But first we’ll start with…
JM:What is your name?
JM:How did you come to this area?
MS:My husband and I moved from St. Paul, Minnesota, to the Hudson River Valley 12 years ago for a job that he took in Catskill. That would be in 2006.
JM:How did you find out about the Scoville Memorial Library opening?
MS:I read about it on the on-line classified section of the “Millerton News”. It was also mentioned to me by a friend.
JM:What is your job title?
MS:Children’s Services Coordinator
JM:What is your job description?
MS:I design and implement all of the programs pertaining to children. I purchase and weed the children’s collection of books, magazines, movies, and audio books. I perform outreach to our community by reading to the children of local daycare centers.
JM:When did you actually join the staff?
MS:I came here to work in 2015 and I am full time.
JM:How do you develop the children’s book collection?
MS:I read a lot of reviews from publications like the Library Journal, the Hornbook, as well as Amazon Good Reads, and even the NY Times Book Review. I also check to see what books are circulating at what rate from other Connecticut libraries. I do a lot of my purchasing on popularity. The most important way I purchase is through patron requests.
JM:What is your budget for this?
MS:My budget for books is $4,000.
JM:You also read to the really little ones. Where do you do that?
MS:I read at Cynthia White’s Day Care for Hotchkiss, the Housatonic Child Care Center, as well as Salisbury Central School pre-K and Kindergarten programs. I also read to the EXTRAS at Salisbury Central which is an after school program for older kids. (See Lou Bucceri interview).
JM:What other library programs have you developed?
MS:I have a lot of one-off programs: A President’s Day program, and a New Year Eve’s Party. I do lot of crafts around the holidays. I do an Art Saturday and a STEM Saturday.
JM:What do you mean by a STEM Saturday?
MS:That is a scientific experiment program once a month for 7-12 year olds. I bring in performers, but those are not regular programs.
JM:How about theatricals, puppet shows and things like that?
MS:I have had that kind of thing twice, a theater group and a puppet show, but they tend to be unaffordable for the number of folks we can get through the door.
JM:What would you like to add to your job here at the Scoville Memorial Library before me move on to SOAR?
MS:It is a remarkable position. I get to meet a lot of the new families who come to town who are trying to get their bearings, especially the ones with little kids seeking community involvement. It is an important job; I sometimes wish I lived in Salisbury as I feel such a part of the community.
JM:SOAR is an afterschool enrichment program which has been going on for about 20 years. How did you get involved with it? (See interviews by Janet Block, Linda Sloane #2)
MS:I was asked by Louise Fallon (See Louise Fallon interview) the former Program Director, to run a class. I ran a book club that semester: I really enjoyed myself by building relationships with some of the older kids that was not happening at the library. When Louise needed to leave, she put my name forward to be put on the Program Committee. I said yes and have been more closely aligned with SOAR ever since.
JM:When did you actually join SOAR?
MS:Shortly after I came to work at the library in 2015.
JM:How many members are on the Program Committee?
MS:I would say it is from 7-9.
JM:What is the composition of the committee?
MS:The committee is made up of Salisbury Central teachers, Linda Sloane, the current Program Director, was a former teacher at Salisbury Central, several parents of SCS pupils, and me.
JM:What does the Program Committee do?
MS:Our primary job is not to come up with programming, but to work and help with fund raising.
JM:When new ideas come through, do you approve them? Is that part of your job?
MS:We don’t approve programming ideas: we do award teacher grants for special events. Specific money has been set aside for teacher grants. Teachers apply for a grant to take kids on a special trip. Our committee does make the decisions on those.
JM:What are some of the fund raising activities that you participate in?
MS:The main one I participate in is the Fall Festival. SOAR has an arts and crafts tent on the library front lawn with 8 or 9 different crafts going on at the same time. The library sponsors two of those and I man that for 6 hours. It is a crazy, fun Fall Festival Day. We make a lot of money.
JM:That is the point and you also get a lot of free PR because you are out there. Are there any other fund raisers?
MS:Yes, we do a Trivia Night at Salisbury Central, but I am not really involved with that. They also sell hot chocolate at the Jump Fest in February. They do all different kinds of things.
JM:Tell me about the teacher grants. How many grants do you give in a year?
MS:As many as are asked for. Sometimes it is only 3. I believe there is enough money for every grade to ask. The grants are not always requested.
JM:How does one apply for a grant?
MS:There is a form where you write up your request and what it is for and send it to us. It is pretty simple. One of the requests was a day trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC to see an exhibit on Chinese ink painting, for a social studies 8th grade group.
JM:You have just completed an event at Salisbury Central “2 Books, 1 School”.
MS:That’s right. It went really well.
JM:Explain about that, please.
MS:There is a group of us, Friends of the Library, SOAR, and Salisbury Central School, all purchased books for every kid in SCS. We have chosen two different books because of the age range. There is one book for the K-3 graders Big Foot, Little Foot by Ellen Potter, and a different book for 4-8 graders. That one is Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus: by Dusti Bowling. We gave these books out at the end
of school last year. The task was to read it, or have it read to them over the summer which I do believe most of them did. When we got back this year, we had two separate assemblies on Sept. 6th: one at 9:30 for the K-3rd graders with a skype or a video discussion with the author of the book, the second assembly was at 1:30 for the 4-8th graders with the author of their book.
Ellen Potter spoke about the inspirational events that lead to her writing Big Foot, Little Foot which included finding a big foot size and footprints in her back yard. It was delightful. Dusti Bowling spoke about her writing process, her struggles, and all the people she talked with to develop the main character of her book. When asked how many kids were interested in being authors, or just wanted to write, literally every kid raised their hand.
As a librarian I am absolutely inspired to offer more writing programs at this library: not just reading, but writing to give them a real idea of where books can actually take you and practicing the craft. I am thrilled.
JM:I am so glad it went well. You have also led program for SOAR. What are some of the workshops you have done?
MS:I did the book club. We wrote a children’s book last semester: we did different art forms as well as setting down stories. Each child wrote a book: then we read our books aloud to the EXTRAS group. We did more of an art focused workshop based on finding inspiration from illustrations in children’s books and creating works of art from that. For example Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett is about a little girl with a magic yarn box who knits sweaters for every dog, person and tree and pick-up truck in her town. We swapped sticks with yarn and created beautiful rainbow stick art which we stuck them into clay to make rainbow yarn trees.
JM:Have you also done sculpture?
MS:Yes we have done sculpture with clay, and print making with Styrofoam and ball point pen. My mom is an artist so some of it rubbed off. I never considered myself an artist, but I sure did grow up around making stuff with my mom so it comes to me naturally. It is fun for me to do.
JM:Why do you do these programs?
MS:Partially it is a large part of my job description at the library. The mandate for the library is pretty broad to reach out to the community, both child and adult. That is what I am trying to do. This gives me a lot of leeway. The things that I find delightful and fun help me do all sorts of programming enthusiastically for others.
JM:You also mentioned a free library. What is that?
MS:The Friends of the Library set up and do the upkeep 3 or 4 little free libraries in Salisbury. One is close to LaBonne’s, one is at the Grove, and one is at the school. They fill it with books, and we refresh it
every week. I maintain the one at Salisbury Central and bring free books on a weekly basis. The kids can bring and drop off their old books in the bins and pick out other books to read.
JM:Is there anything that you would like to add about the SOAR program before we close?
MS:I hope kids recognize or their parents recognize what an important resource that it is and continue to make an effort to sign their kids up for these enrichment programs. They take a lot of people behind the scenes to run them. I know of other towns which do not have this kind of enrichment program. Salisbury is fantastic to have such a program offered and hope that it will continue.
JM:Thank you so much.