As part of our ongoing series of blog posts highlighting our awesome staff throughout the Free Library of Philadelphia, today we take some time to speak with Mary Westbrook, a children's librarian at the Parkway Central Library.
Fondly known as "Miss Mary," around the building and on her virtual storytimes, she has been a children’s librarian at the Free Library for 10 years, and previously worked as an afterschool leader. She is a Philly transplant and loves working and living in the city.
What is your role with the Free Library of Philadelphia?
I am one of five children’s librarians in the Parkway Central Children’s Department. A few of my roles at the moment include weekly baby storytime, craft programs, outreaches (both virtual and in-person), crying while reading middle grade novels, and passionately talking about my favorite graphic novels and chapter books.
What do you wish more people knew about the library where you work?
Even though we are the "main library," we serve a neighborhood and have regular patrons who visit. We have so many people dedicated to helping the community find books to read, apply for grants, learn a new language, borrow musical instruments, and more.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?
So many! I love seeing the babies and toddlers get excited for storytime. I love suggesting books and having the kids come back and tell me they loved them. I love going out into the community and presenting storytime (I’ll be at Sister Cities Park for Parkway Pals on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. from June 15 to August 17). I love to help pick out new books to buy and then opening the boxes when they come in!
What are you currently reading/watching?
I am never reading just one book at a time! Right now I am reading the middle grade novel Peter Lee’s Notes from the Field by Angela Ahn (loving it)! I’m also reading the middle grade graphic novel Softies: Stuff That Happens After the World Blows Up by Kyle Smeallie (this was recommended by one of our other librarians, Ms. Naomi). For personal growth and to be a better member of society, I am reading Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad (recommend this for all white people).
Where’s your favorite place to read in Philly?
Well, I just got a new comfy chair and ottoman in bright yellow that are perfect to curl up and read in! I also try to take advantage of the nice weather and read outside at the Barnes during my lunch break. Hopefully I’ll be able to sit at a coffee shop and read in the near future!
Do you have a favorite librarian or other Free Library staff member at your neighborhood library you think we should celebrate? Let us know in the comments!