The Vinton Public Library has a new Children’s Senior Library Assistant— Alyssa Carpenter.
What is unusual about her story is that Carpenter started out at the old Vinton Library on Washington Avenue as a volunteer when she was 12 years old. She says she has “come full circle.” She is grateful for the opportunity to return to Vinton especially since this is where she discovered that library work was her passion.
“A library is a learning center, where everything I was interested in was at the tips of my fingers,” said Carpenter. “I learned here in Vinton how much I loved library work, and how much libraries help people. They provide access to resources to the community and access to technology for free.”
Carpenter moved to Vinton when she was about 9 years of age. She attended W.E. Cundiff Elementary, William Byrd Middle School, and William Byrd High School before moving to Bluefield and graduating from Graham High School.
As a young library volunteer in Vinton, she did maintenance tasks, assisted patrons, created the bulletin boards and painted the windows in the children’s area, and assisted with story times and special programs.
She went on to earn a degree in Human Development with a minor in Sociology from Virginia Tech, although her ultimate intention was to enter the field of library science. Her plan is to eventually earn her Master’s in Library Science— a difficult task since there are no programs offered in Virginia.
Carpenter says that a Human Development major made sense in meeting her career goals, since librarians must know how to work on the front lines with the public. Understanding human growth and development is a very important aspect of her library work with children as well.
After graduating from Tech, Carpenter worked part-time as the Children’s Programming Specialist in the Montgomery/Floyd Regional Library system in the four libraries in Shawsville, Floyd, Blacksburg, and Christiansburg. She has also been employed as a classroom assistant in a Montessori school. Then the library position in Vinton opened up.
She currently works a regular schedule at the Vinton library, 8:30 or so until 5:00 unless special programming is on the schedule for the day. She hosts a weekly “Book Bugs” story time for infants through age 3 on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 9:30 and “Preschool Story Time” for ages 3-5 at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, also.
Her duties include assisting patrons of all ages, but especially children— from infants through age 11. She creates displays, conducts story times, facilitates and helps to plan children’s programs, and advises adult readers and parents in choosing appropriate selections.
While much of the children’s programming is planned at the central office level, headed up by Roanoke County Divisional Children’s Librarian Sarah Rodgers, Carpenter is able to add her own creative touches to the Vinton offerings. For example, story time themes are set at the divisional level— the current one is transportation— but she can choose the specific books and activities that fit her small patrons best.
Carpenter is using her human development background to boost early literacy skills by not just reading stories and leading activities but explaining to parents and other caregivers the “whys” of what she is doing and what she has chosen to present. She says that giving parents tips on how to interact with their children, not just during library programs, but also at home, can impact kindergarten readiness. So, she doesn’t just choose a story or activity offhandedly— she researches them pretty thoroughly beforehand, as well.
The Vinton Library and all Roanoke County libraries offer an extensive variety of special programs for children. On July 9, Carpenter led a well-attended art event at the Vinton Library for ages 5-12, “Bad Art,” using up heaps of craft and art materials, encouraging children to create their own art. Winners will be selected by judges and receive a “tacky trophy.”
“Challenge Accepted: Legos” is scheduled for July 16 at 2:00.
“Play with your Senses” is coming up for the younger set on July 23 at 10 a.m. This activity will allow children to explore and use the scientific process in creating their own fossils, making moon sand, and playing with water beads or snow dough. Carpenter expects it to be a little messy, but lots of fun.
Zoetropes 3D Printing is scheduled for July 26 at 2 p.m. Children will create their own cartoon—a sort of a flip book—using 3D printer technology.
Professor Whizzpop will make an appearance at the Vinton Library on August 2 at 10 a.m.
Other summer programs that have proven popular this year include a performance of “The Year of Frog and Toad” by Mill Mountain Theatre, “Focus Like a Ninja,” “Karate Chop,” and the “Pokemon Play” gaming and trading event.
The Summer Reading Program will wrap up on August 9 at 2 p.m. with an “Ice Cream Summer Finale.” The library will provide the ice cream; those attending are asked to bring a topping.
The fall library schedule is not yet set, but Carpenter has an extremely intriguing proposal she has named “Caturday.” A cat enthusiast, she is negotiating with the Regional Center for Animal Control and Protection (RCACP) to bring adoptable shelter cats to the library where children will read to them (in contained spaces). This will help to socialize the animals and thrill the children. Stay tuned for more details.
More information on all programs is available by calling the Vinton Library at 857-5043. Library patrons are always welcome to attend library events at any county library— Vinton, South County, Glenvar, Hollins, Bent Mountain, or Mount Pleasant. Information is available online at http://www.yourlibrary.us.