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Rachael Struthers

Library Assistant, Children's Department

I have always loved the O’Neal Library. I think I was always meant to work at the library, but it took me a while to find my way here. I grew up in Mountain Brook. Some of my earliest memories are looking for books in the children’s department and doing summer reading. In high school you could find me upstairs doing homework and research projects. Then I headed off to Auburn, where I earned a degree in Elementary Education. I worked at Tuxedo Elementary for 8 years. Fun Fact – It is in a historic spot in Birmingham made famous by Erskine Hawkins’ song, Tuxedo Junction. After teaching 4th grade, I found myself teaching 4-year-olds for 20 years while I raised my 2 children which led me to always being in the O’Neal Library looking for great books to share with my class. So, one summer I asked if they needed any part-time help. Now here I am working full time in the Children’s department.  

In the Children’s department we all wear many hats and help each other in many ways. I am responsible for planning and implementing the Toddler Tales Storytime. I help with our Outreach storytelling team where we share our love of reading and get kids and families excited about the library. I also help with set up and hospitality for outside story time. When I am not working on a story time, I maintain the board book collection. 

Children learn so many life and social skills by participating in story time. A story time is so much more than just being read a story. While stories are shared, there are also songs, rhyming, counting and movement. Our goal is to get the whole child engaged. These programs are created to develop early literacy skills and school readiness. 

While story time is important for the child, it is also important for the parent or caregiver. Story time is structured to help show parents and caregivers ways they can help their child interact with books and develop early literacy skills. Stories and songs are shared that can be sung or reread at home. The time spent together creates fun memories. It also allows the adults to interact with other adults who have children of the same age and encourages them to spend time in the community. 

In many ways, story time is the heart and soul of the library. Not only does it bring together parents, caregivers, and children, but it also shows the library’s commitment to the community with respect to early literacy and child development.