Meet Kirby McCurtis, Storytime Guerrilla of the Month

Fellow guerrillas, please meet Kirby McCurtis. In addition to rocking her day job as Youth Librarian at library mecca–I mean Multnomah County Library–Kirby has been sharing her expertise as one of the Ask a Storytime Ninja ninjas here at Storytime Underground. She answered a few questions to help us get to know her and her awesome better.

Kirby with author Simone Elkeles at ALA Annual

Kirby with author Simone Elkeles at ALA Annual

Q: What’s been inspiring your library work lately?
Kirby: Honestly, I’m still buzzing from ALA. I heard a number of”light bulb” ideas, had some amazing conversations, and connected with some great people that I had not yet met in real life. A lot of the conversations and ideas are turning into actual projects & programs.

Q: If you had free reign to try anything in storytime, what would it be?
Kirby: As simple as this sounds, I would really like to co-present a storytime. I feel like there are a bunch of activities that are best done with more than one person (especially puppet play). Having two librarians presenting storytime would be so much fun for all participating, and the early literacy asides and conversations would be richer due to the collaboration.

Q: What one storytime skill are you really, really great at? Okay, you can share two things.
Kirby: I have A LOT of energy, so I would say I am really great at getting everyone to participate. Storytime participants, parents and children alike, feed off my energy & enthusiasm and really enjoy themselves. Last week I had a storytime mom tell me I needed to have my own show. Most folks aren’t used to my brand of “Yah!” so my storytimes are a completely new experience for them. When I talk about the early literacy skill “Playing” I have no trouble finding and demonstrating examples for parents and caregivers.

Q: Complete the following sentence: “It’s not storytime until we…”
Kirby: Said “Hello” to our bubbles and had a movement activity. Each age group has a certain song that we get up and move/dance to. I’m quite terrible at sitting still and I don’t expect any of my storytime friends to be good at it either (children OR adults). I thrive on “organized chaos” and I really love to dance.

Q: If you could travel through time, what one piece of storytime advice would you give your new librarian self?
Kirby: “Don’t stress when your new coworkers start sentences with ‘So & So always did ….’ They are having a hard time adapting to change and it has nothing to do with you. If you like the storytime routine the past librarian created–keep it. If not, develop your own program and RAWK IT! The families will love you and your plans if you are your most authentic self.”

Kirby McCurtis is a Youth Librarian for Multnomah County Library. She has worked as a youth librarian at Multnomah County Library’s Midland branch since January 2012, focusing on service to the African and African American communities. She is a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker for her efforts in community building. Prior to coming to Multnomah County Library, Kirby worked at San Diego Public Library, where she helped launch the Cuddle Up & Read program – storytimes for pregnant and parenting teens. She is active in ALA, serving on ALA Council and is currently NMRT (New Members Round Table) Secretary. You can find Kirby on Twitter @kirby_mcc
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