Meet Tabin Crume, Storytime Guerrilla of the Month

Today marks the one-month date from the first Guerrilla Storytime at ALA in Chicago. What better occasion to kick off the Storytime Underground’s Storytime Guerrilla of the Month Feature? Especially since our July 2013 guerrilla was present for that first Guerrilla Storytime one month ago…

Tabin with author Stephen Chbosky at a conference. He's pretty cool, too.

Tabin with author Stephen Chbosky at a conference. He’s pretty cool, too.

Fellow guerrillas, I want you to meet Tabin Crume. She’s the Youth Services Librarian at Elk Grove Library in Elk Grove, CA, and she offers some mad storytime skills–including a great knowledge of storytime songs. She answered a few questions to help us get to know her and her awesome better.

Q: If you could travel through time, what one piece of storytime advice would you give your new librarian self?
Tabin: (I’m not allowed to give myself the winning lottery numbers?) “Be outrageously excellent.” When I first started out it never occurred to me to do yoga, demonstrate stop drop and roll, or wear costumes outside of Halloween. Back then I sat there like a subdued Stepford wife with a frozen Botox smile well past my probationary period. I wish I’d been given permission to be shameless, fearless and great.

Q: You’re in an elevator and an adult services librarian says something about storytime that makes it clear she just doesn’t get it. What do you say to convey the importance of storytime?
Tabin: We know the literacy value of storytimes, so instead I’d tell her how storytimes and programming are necessary for the survival of the public library. McDonald’s offers Wi-Fi, there are free e-books, and DVDs rent for $1. With self-checkout, our interactions are dwindling down to account issues and late fees, which is not the greatest time to start plugging Mango and Bookflix. Storytime is where I bring up our databases (“If you haven’t already picked out a guardian for your baby, the state of California has already picked one for you. Use our legal database!”). It’s where we build relationships that can last a lifetime, where they learn to trust library resources instead of a miscellaneous blogger living in a cave. If we don’t offer storytime and programming, what are we offering the public that can justify our existence? We can’t keep saying we offer books when people can (theoretically) purchase 2500 books on Amazon for $0.01 and get them shipped for free. Without storytime and programming, patrons will stop coming to the library and just purchase their copy of 50 Shades of Grey at Costco.

Q: When you have a storytime problem, whom/what do you turn to for advice or support? It can be a person, a blog, a website, a resource…
Tabin: My mom. She’s a retired teacher. Even if I didn’t want her advice Mom gives it to me, such as, “You should count more in storytime,” or, “You should marry my banker.”

Q: What one storytime skill are you really, really great at? Okay, you can share two things.
Tabin: Is singing a storytime skill? My storytimes are practically operas. If not, I’d have to say improvisation. The kids arrive hyper, I get an hour’s notice the mayor is doing storytime with me, the lights go off in the middle of storytime, instead of externally freaking out I just throw out the script and announce, “We’re conserving energy! Yay!” and figure something out. My motto is as long as the gas station next door doesn’t catch fire again, I got this.

Q: Complete the following sentence: “It’s not storytime until we…”
Tabin: Check the weather. I open the shades and ask yes or no questions: “Is it raining/snowing/cloudy/windy today? Are trees moving around? Was it windy yesterday? Do you think it will be windy tomorrow? Is it sunny?” (Yes—it’s California.) Then we sing “Good Morning to You” to the tune of “Happy Birthday.” (“Good morning to you, good morning to you, the sun is shining, good morning to you.”)

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