By Ida Brown / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
As the new children's services coordinator at Meridian/Lauderdale County Public Library, Abbie Woolridge wants children to not only think of the library as a place to check out books, but also as "the place to be."
"I would like for it to be automatic for kids to think, 'Oh, that's the fun place to go, that's where we get to do fun things – story times and crafts and all sorts of things,'" she said. "Especially in the summer, when they feel they don't have anything to do while school's out."
The Slidell, La., native assumed her new duties on May 20 – just when the downtown facility was undergoing renovations.
"I like the openness, the airiness and brightness of the area, especially for the younger kids. They tend to like bright and bold colors," she said.
Before becoming a librarian, Woolridge taught high school English, pre-biology and oral communications. She earned her master's degree in library and information science at the University of Southern Mississippi.
"I have such a vast array of interests and being in the classroom sort of narrowed what I could to express those interests. I felt the library was a much broader area," she said. "I also wanted to work with young children."
While working on her master's degree, Woolridge worked at the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection housed at the library at USM. She also worked at the Slidell branch of the St. Tammany Parrish Library.
Woolridge said she looks forwards to working with M/LCPL Director Steve McCartney to implement new ideas for the local library. She hopes to be instrumental in implementing programs that will encourage use of the library, not only for pre-schoolers but also students in upper grades.
"Hopefully, in the future, even the high school age – with the young adult literature," she said. "There really is a rich pool of young adult literature out there."
Woolridge said she also looks forward to building connections with the local schools, including the homeschool community.
"I think that's an important relationship ... Schools and libraries can help support each other in a great way and I hope to encourage that," she said. "The first step is just building a communication and finding ways that we can support each other. Find out what the kids are doing in school – what they are interested in, what they are required to be interested in by the schools. We can't support the kids without that knowledge, so I look forward to building that knowledge."
In addition to her passion for reading, Woolridge also has a passion for theater, particularly musical theater. Not only has she performed in productions in her hometown and while in college, she also minored in vocal performance in her undergraduate studies at Louisiana Tech University.
"I've been doing theater since I was 5. I love signing and theater, which kind of lends itself to my job because story time is performing," she said. "Director McCartney told me about the local community theater and has encouraged me to participate. I really do hope to be a part of it."