Meet Susan Heist Carlton
Assistant Head of Youth Services
Susan Heist Carlton is the Assistant Head of Youth Services and School Services Liaison.
- Tell us something about your background.
I am a graduate of the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois. As a student in their Online Education Program (LEEP) I took most of my courses online in real time with students from around the United States and the world. It was an amazing learning experience. I also have 25 years of experience as a clinical social worker and administrator working with abused and neglected children and their families.
- How did you decide to become a librarian?
I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania without a public library. But, from the time I entered my first public library as a middle school student, I was hooked – both on reading and on libraries as special places that could open doors to new worlds. In college my interest in children led me to a career in social work but when the time came for me to work in a different arena, becoming a librarian seemed a natural choice.
- Why are you specializing in services to children and youth?
Working with children is a natural fit with my previous training and experience. I am also struck by the power of books to expose children to new ideas and different perspectives and to validate a child’s experience and feelings. Then, too, kids are just plain fun. Their energy and enthusiasm keep me energized. I really enjoy the challenge of helping kids find just the right book – something that immediately piques their interest and gets them reading.
- How do you envision School Services at Skokie Public Library?
I think schools and public libraries are natural partners – both serve children and families in the community and they share many of the same values and goals. The public library can be an invaluable resource for schools, particularly in these tight economic times. Materials to assist with curriculum development, books, to supplement classroom studies and resources to assist students with homework and school projects can all be accessed through the library. Opportunities for shared programming abound particularly in the areas of fostering reading readiness and leisure reading, helping parents prepare children for kindergarten, and teaching information literacy. I believe the public library needs to be in dialogue with schools, talking about how we can work together to extend our impact with children and families.
- What are your goals for this school year?
This fall I will again be visiting the Skokie schools to talk about the library services available for teachers and students. Last year Middleton School set a goal of signing up all their first grade students for Skokie Public Library cards. Working with our bookmobile staff they were able to achieve their goal. I’d like to assist other schools with library card campaigns so that every Skokie child can access materials in our library.
We will also have a social work intern this year and will be partnering with the English Language Learner Center to identify resources and develop informational programs for immigrant children and their families.
- What’s the best children’s book you read this summer?
Being a librarian I can’t possibly talk about just one book! My goal this summer was to read all the 2009-2010 Voice of Youth Award (VOYA) books and all the 2010 Rebecca Caudill nominees. By mid-August I had just about achieved my goal.
A riveting VOYA book I just couldn’t put down was Peak by Roland Smith. Peak Marcello is the 14-year-old son of a world famous mountaineer. He hones his climbing skills by scaling skyscrapers in New York City. Caught and sentenced to probation on the condition that he lives with his father in Thailand, Peak learns that his father hopes he will become the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest. Readers are whisked to the world of Everest base camps where climbing is always costly and often deadly.
While surfing, 15-year-old Jane loses her right arm to a shark attack. Shark Girl, a Caudill nominee by Kelly L. Bingham, chronicles Jane’s inner journey in the year after her accident. She is flooded with feelings of anger and sadness as she learns to cope not only with the loss of her arm and her drawing ability but also with her sense of differentness and isolation resulting from her physical disfigurement.