A Storytelling Librarian


Author: Leon LingĀ  Photo: Annie Spratt

Guest Speaker: Louise Booth

When you standing at the front of the counter in a library, there might be some labels above the heads of people in the office, indicating what they can help you. The labels can be borrowing a book, returning a book, paying fine, checking book availability, or paying for a membership. However, these labels were insufficient to describe a librarian’s role, which has more involvement in books.

Louise Booth has more than 40 years of experience as a librarian. Originated in Ontario, she used to work in the libraries in Toronto, Vancouver, Fraser Valley, and some regional libraries around the Great Vancouver region.

Louise’s career has a profound relationship with her childhood. In a small town in Manitoba with her parents, who are good at storytelling, Louise’s childhood was full of various books. However, only one library in the small town and was entire of books no one wanted. When Louise moved to Ontario with her family, she decided to bring books to children in the small community.

After Louise obtained her Bachelor’s Degree, she enrolled in a one year program of Librarian Science. She needed to learn how to manage a library, categorize all the books, and organize different resources so that people can easily access the information they need, and learn marketing and community research to find out what books work best for the demographic in a specific community.

Helping children enjoying the beauty of stories was the initial reason Louise would like to be a librarian. She chooses to work for the Toronto Public Library because there was a great chance and service to work with children. Louise got trained for storytelling for children and also taught for producing the puppet show. From selecting the idea, writing script, and making puppets to performance, Louise enjoyed how children like the stories, just like she enjoyed books when she was a child.

With the development of Louise’s career path, the location and the job responsibility changed gradually. After serving libraries in big cities, like Toronto and Vancouver, she went to Fraser Valley and other small regions around Greater Vancouver, where communities could not afford books. When she was in charge of six libraries, her role changed from interacting with the audience to supervising other employees. Not long awhile, changes also happened in librarian work. Interacting with children and adults brought stories to the classroom, which Louise enjoyed the most done by other clerks. The job left for Louise was answering questions, donating, or keeping unwanted books.

Later in her career, Louise chose another way to enjoy her interaction with her children. She quit her full-time job in the library, started her own puppet show company, and continued to tell stories to children outside of her library work. After retiring, Louise continued to be a church librarian. In addition to enjoying the interaction with the children in the church, she also kept telling the stories in the book to her grandchildren.