All posts by Doug Schwartz

About Doug Schwartz

Not only is Doug an active member of the Wells Branch Friends of the Library group, he is also a local author of whimsical fiction. You can learn more about him at checkeredscissors.com. While he is not making up stuff, he makes up other stuff, like designing tabletop games or preparing delicious meals for his family. Introduce yourself to him at the next neighborhood event.

Welcome, Nick Jobe!

Are you aware the Wells Branch Community Library has a new children’s librarian? Nick Jobe started in January.

Nick, please introduce yourself.

Hello, my name is Nick Jobe. I’m born and raised in Texas, formerly living in Victoria. I’m married and have two daughters.

What did you do before joining the Wells Branch Community Library? And, what called to you to become a librarian, and in particular, a children’s librarian?

Since early elementary school, I’d always wanted to be a writer and teacher. Writing has always been a part of my life; Outside of writing tutoring—as well as books that have yet to see the light of day—I’ve published 3 books (The Fairy Tale Chronicles, which can be found on Amazon), and I started teaching high school English in 2009. I realized that teaching high school wasn’t for me and, 3 years later, made a shift. I moved to South Korea in 2013 and taught EFL at a public elementary school.

After a year, my contract ended, and I came back to the States and began getting my Masters in Library Science. (I’d had a former coworker always joke she wanted to quit and become a librarian, and those conversations sparked the idea.) After a while, I got a job as an elementary school librarian, which I remained as for 7 years. During this time, I also began a PhD in Learning Technologies, though due to personal and Covid reasons, right before getting into the dissertation, I had to shift 5 years’ worth of credits to a second Master’s degree. Anyway, I was a school librarian up until last school year (21-22), but due to some district issues, many district elementary librarians left—myself included. I returned to the classroom and began teaching 4th and 5th grade ELAR and social studies and was not a big fan of that shift (I did, however, end up reconnecting with my 1st grade teacher, the woman who inspired me to be a writer and educator, who happened to work part time at that school). My wife found a job posting for WBCL, which I found I was qualified for, and applied. Long story short (too late), we ended up selling our house in about a month—that was hard—and moved up to Austin. We’re loving it here, and I’m loving working at the library.

What do you like to do when you are not working at the library?

I enjoy movies and TV, but I like the whole craft of it, not just watching it. Filmmaking is fun, though it’s something I have only minimal experience in. I’m a big Marvel fan. I also like the occasional video games, though not as much time for those as I used to have! Of course family time is important, and moving to Austin opened up a great deal of things we can do that weren’t easily available before. I also enjoy writing, learning about various topics, cooking, and podcasting.

What are some of your favorite books, and why?

I was a big Harry Potter fan for many, many years. They honestly got me into reading as an older child. While I don’t often delve into the Wizarding World as much these days, they still hold a special place for me (we did go to Universal Studios a few years back and got to experience the Wizarding World, which was so fun).

On the adult end, I’m a big fan of Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. I also read the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson last year and absolutely loved them. I also want to mention The Count of Monte Cristo, which I also read last year and loved. I don’t often do non-fiction, but I’m a big fan of the book The Disaster Artist, which is about the making of The Room, one of the worst and most baffling movies ever made.

What are your favorite children’s books, and why? Who are some of your favorite authors and/or illustrators, and why?

I’m a big fan of Mo Willems. The Elephant and Piggie, Knuffle Bunny, and Pigeon books are a lot of fun. I also love Shel Silverstein poetry and would read those a lot to my students. You also can’t go wrong with Dr. Seuss. I became famous amongst my library classes for how fast I could read Fox in Socks.

Which do you favor: book series or one-offs?

It really just depends. I like both. I enjoy series because I like spending more time world building and learning about the characters. However, I also enjoy one-offs since you don’t have to worry about spending tons of time getting to a conclusion, and it can be nice and concise.

When children are interested in reading, but do not know what to read, how do you help them find a book they might like?

Asking questions about what they like, what kind of stories or topics they enjoy, if there’s another book or series they’ve read they liked, etc., and find things based on that information. If they’re not a big reader and want to find something they might like, we usually discuss genre, movies, etc., to get an idea of the types of stories they enjoy.

How do you encourage non-readers to explore reading more?

Graphic novels are controversial with some people, but they are a good bridge for non-readers to get into reading as long as they are used appropriately and not as a crutch where it’s all they will read. But really, I find most non-readers consider themselves as such because they just haven’t found the right book yet. I wasn’t a big fan of reading until Harry Potter, and then that led me to other series, authors, etc., as I grew up.

For story times, how do you capture the attention of the more fidgety kids?

Story times are interesting because I think many people feel the kids need to sit and be 100% focused on the story. You can be as engaging as possible with character voices, exaggeration, movement, colors, props, puppets, etc., but if your child is 5 or under—as is the case with the majority of story times—you can’t keep the attention of every kid, if not most. The idea is that they’re hearing the language. So many studies show that just having a book read to you is enough in regards to language and story exposure. So let the kids be fidgety and move around—they’re still hearing the words, and with such young ages, that’s what’s important.

Do you have any advice for parents of picky or stubborn readers?

Let kids read what they want to read (within reason/personal preference, of course). I spent many years dealing with the Accelerated Reader program that forced kids to read within a certain level, drastically cutting down on what they can read, despite the fact research shows having a more open choice and being able to go under or above your level is a good thing from time to time. Allow your kids to choose what they want (as long as it falls under what you deem appropriate for them). If they’re struggling to find something because they’re too picky, talk to a librarian. We should be able to find something they’d like based on previous likes and dislikes.

Are there any children’s programs you would like to improve or start?

I would like to help build our programming for tweens and teens to get them more involved in the library.

What library service(s) would you like people to know more about?

At The Library After School (ATLAS) Club. It’s for kids ages 8-12 (only!) and every week are able to do a different fun craft or activity between 4:30-5:30, currently on Mondays.

What question would you like this interviewer to ask you, and how would you answer it?

Q: What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited?

A: I spent a few days in Cambodia near the end of my Asian living and was completely blown away by the lifestyle and things I saw while there. It was so different than anything I had experienced at that point in my life and was in part humbling and awe-inspiring.

 

Thank you, Nick! And, welcome to the Wells Branch Community Library!

Ambassadors of the Library

Hello everyone!

I am Doug Schwartz, the current president and a board member of the Wells Branch Friends of the Library (FoL). It has been a while since we updated the FoL website. Let’s time travel back a bit to catch up on what has been happening with the FoL.

A few years ago, the FoL had been preparing for another Neighborhood Garage Sale. And then, the COVID pandemic hit. All those plans had to be tossed out the window and people yelled, “Shut that window! What’re you trying to do? Let the COVID in?!”

When the pandemic faded and it was finally okay to open the window again (and the world), the FoL asked, “What about the Neighborhood Garage Sale? Are we still doing that?” As much as people wanted another Neighborhood Garage Sale, most of us involved did not want to go through all the effort of organizing another one. The FoL board sent me forth to ask the library for their opinion. This is what I learned…

A percentage of taxes on local Wells Branch businesses is allocated to help fund the Wells Branch Library. This tax eliminated the need for the FoL’s biggest fundraiser. In other words, everyone who supports places like Branch BBQ and Malone’s Coffee provide much better support for the library than our garage sale with much less effort. Besides, the pandemic introduced Wells Branch to the Buy Nothing program (essentially organized dumpster diving) which has been a fine alternative for the garage sale.

Don’t get me wrong, the library still very much needs its Friends of the Library. The Wells Branch Library is growing and working towards providing even more functions, programs, and services. I have been an active member with the FoL for several years and I am still surprised by what our library has to offer. At events, I meet people who only think the library only loans out books, and other people ask, “Wells Branch has a library?!

The library appreciates the FoL, but because not everyone really knows what the Wells Branch Library is all about and has to offer, the library needs its Friends to also be Ambassadors!

I recently took down the posts about the garage sale, so I can proudly assume my new role as an Ambassador of the Library to revive this website by starting a blog to tell you more about our wonderful Wells Branch Library. I cannot wait to tell you more about all the incredible people who work with the library and all the amazing things the library has to offer. I might even be able to provide the occasional peek at things to come!

Would you like to be an ambassador, too? We would love your help reaching out to people in and around the Wells Branch area to teach them more about the library. If you are not that adventurous, please share what you love about the Wells Branch Library so I can capture it in a future blog to share with other people.