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Booked and Busy

Jane Young talks about her 24 incredible years at the Cedar Park Public Library.

For those that know Jane Young, AKA Miss Jane, it can be said that reading became one of their first loves. She has seen readers come through her door that now bring their own little ones to discover the joy of books. We sat down to discuss what her experience has been like as a library legend since March of 1998.

What inspired you to take the job at the Cedar Park Public Library, to begin with?

JANE: "Bringing the love of reading to the kids... Kids have a natural thirst for knowledge, and hopefully I'm able to foster that love of reading."

With that in mind, what would you say is the most fulfilling part of working here?

JANE: "Giving children and teens confidence and empathy with reading. That's really important. The joy of finding a book they really like or a series... Or even with reluctant readers, helping them choose something that they're interested in. Because that's half the battle. Sometimes parents will pick a book for a child but they're not thinking about what they like. I usually question them about what they are into. Even if it's Minecraft, we have Minecraft books!"

Do you have any particular memories that have stuck out to you through the years?

JANE: “Probably several! But the most rewarding thing that I hear is that I have parents come back to me years later and tell me what an impact I had on their child, as far as fostering that love of reading. They go on to be avid readers as adults.”

You host three storytimes for the kids. Tell me about what each one is like.

JANE: “The first one is a baby storytime called Lap Sit. It’s for zero- to 15-month-olds. I set up a bunch of mats and mirrors and foam things for them. We sit around on the mats, we sing, we read one story… Then we do play time where I bring out toys for the babies to socialize. Toddler storytime is at 10:30, and that’s 15- to 36-month-olds. That one is about 20 minutes long, and it’s very active. I read books, but then I do a lot of singing and action-type stuff in between because I know they can’t just sit there. And then pre-school is at 11:15, and that goes for half an hour. We do three stories, some singing in between, and I share a little film that is usually under ten minutes.”

You have had the opportunity to do outside storytimes. How does that compare to holding them in the library?

JANE: “It was really nice because it was all ages. I had a lot more singing and action, and I would read a couple of big books so that everyone could see. I love getting to do outdoor storytime, and I’ll hopefully get back to that soon.”

How do you come up with what to do for each storytime? Do you focus on the latest books?

JANE: “My background is teaching, so I always make lesson plans. Just in case I get distracted, I can glance at that on my cart and I pretty much follow it. But I will say that if I have a very active group, I sometimes will change that. I may change a book to a shorter one and do more active things, just to keep their attention. And I’m constantly looking for new books. I’m very thematic, so I do go by themes. If there’s a new book that has come out in the last year or two, I will definitely use it. But there are some that are just really good for storytime.”

One of the ways that you are able to keep the kids' attention is through puppet shows. Talk about that kind of engagement.

JANE: “I try to implement them, especially with the little ones. With my Lap Sit, I always do Old MacDonald, so I have three different animals. Sometimes it can be a funny one. I’ll have a bumblebee, a tiger, a monkey… I try to change it up. I did this on my outdoor storytime a lot. We actually did an entire puppet show outside this summer. We got a puppet stage that was light enough for us to move, and we had a lot of kids there!”

With the new library currently in the process of coming to life, what are looking forward to?

JANE: “More space, more staff, and more programs! Right now, we’re so limited because we just have one room. I’m really looking forward to being able to offer more.”

MORE ON THE NEW LIBRARY

The master plan behind the new Cedar Park Public Library has evolved since 2014. A decade later, the dream will finally become a reality with the Bell District project. Operations will completely move to the new building as it becomes the civic anchor of a dynamic place with mixed-use development and a park.

Architect partner Lake|Flato, known for the Austin Public Library, will be finding the perfect balance between the indoor and outdoor experience. There will be many opportunities for community meeting areas, dedicated activity rooms, and customized play-based learning spaces.

After making endless happy memories and changing a lot of lives since the current library building’s opening in 1990, this expansion is sure to bring the community even closer together.

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