Sarah Loch was destined to be a librarian from a very early age.
Even as a 10-year-old Sarah, the “young adult” librarian at the Springdale Public Library, pushed her pro-reading agenda on her friends and family.
“I always loved books and reading as a kid,” she said. When I was trying to find a profession that would allow me to share that love of books and reading with other people, libraries were the perfect fit. The times I’ve felt most successful as a librarian is where I’ve found a person who thinks they don’t like to read and I’ve found the book that changes their mind.”
“I was very convinced of my own intelligence because I read lots of books,” she said, laughing a little. “I was always trying to share the facts that I learned from those books with other people.”
Her enthusiasm for books, reading and learning wasn’t always appreciated.
“I did learn how to reign it in a bit as I aged. I had a lot of younger siblings so I kind of grew into that.”
Flash forward about 25 years and Sarah is still advocating for books, reading and learning. It’s her job, and one she loves.
“Our programming for children at the Springdale Public Library is very popular,” she said. “We offer programming for birth through age 12. We have regular story times for babies, toddlers and preschool age children. We have a bilingual story time for our Spanish speaking families and those who would like their children to be more literate in Spanish.
“For school age kids we offer a variety of educational and STEM based programs. It’s called after school STEAM.”
STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, is a focus in many school districts around the country. It’s meant to make future generations more competitive in those core areas of knowledge. Many programs are now including Arts in the initiative. That makes STEM into STEAM.
And each program has different theme and they all involve hands-on activities to teach children science, technology engineering art and math principles.
“We have STEAM back packs that can be checked out by parents with different activities in each one,” she explained. “There are 24 packs currently available for check out. They have been very popular.”
Examples, Sarah said, include dinosaurs and the solar system, puzzles and logic, electronic circuits, and how to do fractions decimals and percentages. The program includes other concepts that fall under the STEAM umbrella.
“The STEAM packs include things like a snap circuit kit,” she said. “That might be a little expensive for parents to buy for children, but they can be checked out here and take it home and use it and bring it back for the next person to check out and learn from.”
For some age groups the library offers other back packs to check out.
“We have story time back packs with the same idea,” she added. “For parents who can’t make it to our story time programs, they can check one out and have their own mini story time at home. Each one is based on a theme and they have a couple of books that are related to the theme. They have songs and rhymes and crafts with all of the materials needed to complete it.”
“We are always working to keep our collection up to date,” the 10-year veteran librarian said. “We have the nonfiction and STEAM titles that kids need in order to learn, but we also have the kinds of fiction books that will allow everyone in our community to enjoy for recreational reading.”
Having a current collection and a diversity of books is important to the modern library system.
“We want to meet everyone’s needs so there are books where everyone can see themselves reflected. We want to have materials that reflect the diversity of Springdale as a community.”
Sarah knows that for the foreseeable future, books and reading are the best way to make sure you are ready for the challenges that young adulthood will inevitably bring.
“The thing is, until we develop technology that directly beams knowledge into your brain the easiest way to learn is going to by reading something,” she said. “If you are going to read, and understand what you read, that is going to enable you to keep learning for your entire life. Your not just stuck with whatever you are taught while you are in school. You can always learn new things, and understand new things, if you know how to read.”