The Kutztown Community Library Board of Directors voted in December to make the Youth Librarian position from part time to full time to better serve the youth of the community, effective Jan. 15.
“For a while, we have wanted a full-time Youth Librarian. It is hard to retain high-quality librarians, when they can take their training and experience elsewhere to get a full-time position,” said Cathy Ruhf, Library Board President. “When Taylor (Kutz) began as the Youth Librarian, we quickly realized that she was someone we wanted to hold onto. By making this investment in a full-time position, we are, also, investing in Taylor and ensuring that her training and experience can stay here at our Library.”
Ruhf said Taylor has already implemented many new programs, including Teen Tuesdays and more recently Wiggly Wednesdays.
“Her programs reach every age group. Being full time, Taylor will have more time to ensure the quality of her current programs and create new programs as the need arises.”
Kutz added a new preschool story time on Thursdays at 11 a.m., added Wiggly Wednesdays from 10 to 11 a.m. and has been expanding the library’s outreach programs with an after school story time at Highland Estates.
“The Library’s youth programming is helping to build the future of our community. Children and teens are learning important literary, social, and life skills that will create future well-rounded citizens. Having a full-time Youth Librarian, will expand the number of youth that can be a part of these important programs,” said Ruhf.
“I am so excited about it,” said Kutz.
She feels fortunate, especially in comparison to many youth librarian positions elsewhere in Berks County that may only have 10 hours a week.
“I love kids. I love interacting with them. I think they are so much fun,” said Kutz. “I feel like I’m learning new things everyday. No story time is exactly the same and no program is exactly the same so I feel like I’m constantly learning new ways to handle different situations and the kids are the ones teaching me that, so I think that’s so much fun,” said Kutz.
Kutzt said the biggest change will be more programs.
“I already started adding more programs,” said Kutz. “Wiggly Wednesdays will have different programs every week. One is a toddler playtime. The other one is called Play K, getting preschoolers ready to go on to kindergarten.”
The library also hosts a Block Party on Wednesdays, during which time children can play with wooden blocks from 10 to 11 a.m.. Kutz also hopes to put programing together for home schoolers.
“I see it adding lots of benefits for the community. With adding more programs, we have lots of options for the kids to come to... We have so many different kinds of things offered. For the community we’re available to the them; we have programs every day of the week.”
Toddler Story Times are 11 a.m. Monday and 10 a.m. Thursday. Preschool Story Time 10 a.m. Monday and 11 a.m. Thursday.
“I hope that it prepares them to go on to preschool and kindergarten. I hope that they’re learning something while they’re with me and also I hope that they’re having fun,” said Kutz. “It’s a good time. It’s an introduction to books. I try to do themes to associate songs with books. It’s so nice they can go right next door then and check out books.”
The position, which comes with health benefits and paid vacation time, will be increased from 28 hours to 35 hours a week. Duties include maintaining the library website. New for Kutz will be the opportunity to maintain the youth collection and order new books. She also hopes to take on more job duties currently taken care of by Library Director Janet Yost.
“Right now I’m doing things that pull me away from doing programs and ordering books,” said Yost. “With her being able to pitch in on other aspects such as the events calendar, making promotional signs, that will take that off of my plate so I can do some of these other things for the adults.”
The library director hopes to add more adult programs such as a financial series. She is looking for presenters for future programs as well and asks community members interested in being a presenter to contact her.
Yost said that making this a full-time position is something she have been working toward for the past five years.
“Funding is tight but the benefits to the community outweigh financial burden,” she said.
While the library receives some state and local funding, she said 60 percent of funding is from donations and fundraising efforts.
“One source of funding is the passport applications that we process at the Library. We retain the application fee and these proceeds will help support this position,” said Yost. “We are fortunate that 2016 had the highest number of applications processed since we became an agency in 2007.”
Yost anticipates longevity in the position.
“The position should maintain the person longer and that’s a real plus because having people coming in and out of the position, you loose continuity. With her full time she’ll be able to stay on for more than one year. We’re really excited about that,” said Yost.
The library director said the interview and hiring process takes a lot of time, and it also takes time for a new youth librarian to establish connections with youth.
“(The full-time Youth Librarian position) is a vital necessity in the community. Look at all of these kids around right now. They’re all here for the extra story time,” said Yost referring to the preschool age children in the youth area checking out books and playing together in the play area. “This is great.”
Yost said the youth librarian works with introducing young children to literacy by reading to them, getting the patterns of the words, reinforcing it with crafts, songs and bubbles.
“That’s a great start to life,” said Yost.
For more information about programs at Kutztown Community Library, visit www.berks.lib.pa.us/sku/.