TADL Staff Spotlight: Rosie May

Rosie May, Co-Manager
East Bay Branch Library

What is your role at the library and how did you choose this career?

I am Co-Manager of the East Bay Branch Library now. In 1994, I began as a Substitute employee filling in wherever needed at the library. I remember when I was substituting for Jill Bert and doing the storytimes (talk about having “big shoes” to fill), I would tell the kids that I got a note from Brown Sugar (the storytime bear) saying that, “He was out of town.”

About four years later, there was an opening at East Bay Branch and so I’ve been there ever since.

You’re known to many as “Miss Rosie,” as a result of your many years of story time and other children’s programs. Is this your favorite thing to do?

Yes, when the East Bay Branch Library position opened up, I only agreed to accept it on one condition: Rosie gets to do kids’ programs! So, I was offering story time programs and reading club about four or five times a week. Currently, we’re offering about ten to fifteen children’s programs each month.

What’s your favorite kids program?

I used to do a program called Super Saturdays. It was a combination of stories and crafts for older kids. It was really popular in a day and age when there were fewer scheduled events and program options for kids in the community.

Most of all, I love story times. There’s something magical about leading kids to discovering books, connecting parents and grandparents together in the community, and especially modeling early literacy skills to the parents or caregivers. These are things they can learn by watching or participating at a library program and then reinforce throughout the week at home.

You come from a family of Librarians, right?

Well, yes, I do. My mother, Martha Vreeland, worked at the Youth Services department at the TADL Main Library. She actually went back to school at age 50 to get her Master’s Degree in Library Science. My sister, Amanda, is the Director of the Menominee County Library in Stephenson, MI (Upper Peninsula).

Originally, I studied Art History at NMC and then Art Education at GVSU. But, the library was an ever-present part of my life. I worked at the NMC Library and also at a library in Lansing before TADL. In fact, I started volunteering at the library at age 11 by doing puppet shows with my family members: The Vreeland Family Players, which are pretty similar skills for reading story time programs. So, I guess I come by it naturally.

East Bay Branch Library has some uncommon programming, especially art-based programming. Your influence?

Well, of course I really like arts and crafts…I studied it in college. It’s pretty fun to offer learning opportunities that you wouldn’t expect to find at a public library. Things like Ukrainian egg decorating, miniature making on the third Thursday of each month, and offering a place for the Ben Franklin Needle Arts group.

Perhaps some of this is influenced by the old building that East Bay Branch Library inhabits. It’s a two-room library that’s kinda old-timey and nostalgic. So, we like to reinforce that culture of family and community with old-fashioned holiday open house parties and our annual ice cream social in the summer.

Tell me about the Filmstrip Festival that you offer each summer. How did that start?

The library has a great collection of filmstrips, most of them are too long to use at a story time program. When the Traverse City Film Festival (TCFF) started in 2005, there weren’t any films for kids. I thought, “Well, I have to work during the Film Festival anyway. I may as well show filmstrips!” So the following summer, 2006, I had a few days that I showed filmstrips at the library during the TCFF. We had popcorn and candy, just to add to the nostalgia (for the parents) and it was simply meant to be community oriented.

A few years later the TCFF added movies for families and kids, but I kept up the Filmstrip Festival. Next thing you know, this summer is the 13th Filmstrip Festival. It’s just fun!

What’s one thing about Public Libraries that people in our community might like to know?

I run into people all the time that say things like, “I fear for the future of libraries.” Maybe they think that technology or short attention spans are going to be the demise of public libraries. So, I usually reply by saying, “Come step inside and see what’s happening at libraries.”

You’ll find that people are using them for a variety of reasons…which means that libraries are alive and well!