Laini Bostian began by helping misguided teens inNew YorkState. The relationships she formed with these young people helped to steer her career with libraries. Today, Laini is the Manager of Youth Services at Culpeper Library and so much more. I sat down with her in the library youth section to learn more about what drives her to give so much of her time and energy to the youth population inCulpeperCounty.
How does one get from Kingston, NY to Culpeper, VA?
After earning my Masters Degree in Elementary Education, I worked as a substitute teacher inKingston. I was assigned to the 8th grade students since the schools had trouble filling these substitute positions. They were challenging and I had a way of connecting with them. From there I worked at a youth center with tweens and teens between the ages of 10 and 20. I later worked on a grant for the County Youth Bureau inKingston,NY, aimed at preventing teens from using cigarettes. These experiences helped me to connect the homeless youth in my community to services that supplied food, clothing and shelter. It also provided me with an opportunity to introduce them to the library. It was those teens who encouraged me to become a children’s librarian. When my family moved toIllinois, I followed them and was hired by a small town library where I secured a $20,000 grant to fund a youth program which taught local children to publish a book using In Design and Photoshop. I made another geographic leap when I moved across the country to work at the impressive Culpeper County Library, which offered me an opportunity to be a Department Manager prior to obtaining my MLIS (Master of Library and Information Sciences). This ideal situation keeps me close to family inNorth Carolinaand enables me to work with other child enthusiasts in the youth services department, and to work closely with other departments in a team environment.
How do you see your role in the library?
In addition to developing programs for youth, which is from birth through teenage years, I manage the library’s book collection, am responsible for all special library programming, like storytime for Farmington Elementary School’s Title One Spirit Day, implementing new initiatives, such as the Every Child Ready to Read program that gives parents the tools to help their children develop pre-literacy skills, and I manage myriad general library issues. I am also the library’s representative for the Healthy Culpeper Teen Empowerment Coalition and the Healthy Culpeper Early Childhood Work Group, both sponsored by Healthy Culpeper.
What is Healthy Culpeper?
Healthy Culpeper is a community coalition devoted to promoting the “ideal” community, where representatives from law enforcement, the religious community, social services,CulpeperHospital, and various support agencies for the elderly and youth can communicate in a “family-style” way to improve services to the community.
What do you like most about your job?
I’ve always loved storytime. It is so much more than simply reading a book to a child. It is an opportunity to perform and demonstrate how book characters can come alive. Today, I am the back-up storyteller, but I still enjoy it whenever I have the chance. Although I develop programming for all youth, I am still drawn to the teenage population. Recently I had a 6th-grader who wore a frown and claimed to hate reading ask me for assistance with his accelerated reading requirements. After spending some time with him, I steered him toward nonfiction books on the military. He left enthusiastic about reading and with a different perception of the library. This is what I love about my job. I love to see that kind of transformation take place.
What are your goals for the teens you work with?
I have a lot of goals related to keeping teens involved in the library. First, I want to get them into the library by the great programming developed by their peers. I want them to be around adult role models and show them that they are useful and respected members of the community, while providing opportunities for them to practice friendship skills and have a good time. I guess when you get right down to it, I want to encourage and empower teens.
What do you like to do away from the library?
My undergraduate is in Fine Arts and I still enjoy sculpture and painting. I developed a new art style called Sharpie Art. It began as doodling and was portable so I embraced it. As this style evolved, I began to capture the people around me in “soul stamps.” As soon as I finish my MLIS I look forward to increasing the amount of time that I work on my art, volunteer within the community, and devote to writing.
To learn more about the Culpeper County Library and Healthy Culpeper, please visit the following websites: