Person of the Week
Myla Perrelli: Fostering Learning in a Kid-Friendly Library
Myla Perrelli thoroughly enjoys her job as the children’s librarian at the E.C. Scranton Memorial Library. “The most rewarding experiences I have had as a children’s librarian have been creating programs from the ground up that are service-oriented,” she says. (Photo by Maria Caulfield/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Here’s a fun riddle: What legumes do librarians like? Answer: Silentils.
More on wholesome foods like legumes later on, but the part about silence probably applies more to the stereotypical library, not Madison’s E.C. Scranton Memorial Library—and certainly not its children’s department.
A bright and spacious section in the newly expanded Scranton Library, the children’s room is a place where silence is not imposed, lively interaction is allowed, and kids’ laughter is welcome.
That’s just how Children’s Librarian Myla Perrelli likes it.
She also points out, “Parents are welcome to read aloud to their children, but we don’t allow outside people to do story times [or a] group read-aloud in the children’s room.”
She describes the new children’s section as a comfortable place that encourages children to explore and learn new ideas.
“It’s definitely open and airy with lots of natural light,” she says. “Several windows look out on Boston Post Road while a beautiful sky light is in the center of the room. Blue is found throughout the children’s room with lighting shaped to simulate waves of an ocean. I would say an ocean theme is the best way to describe it.”
There’s also an alcove called Morgan’s Nook, which showcases a 20-by-8 feet beach mural and an L-shaped couch for young readers to snuggle up with their parents to read. It’s named after Morgan Beach, a 28-year old woman who voraciously read books, shared them, and brought them with her when she spent summers with her parents in Madison. She passed away on March 1, 2019.
“Morgan’s Nook is a cozy sitting area in the corner of the children’s room. On the wall is a beautiful mural done by local artists and commissioned by local parents in memory of their daughter who was an avid reader,” Myla explains.
The Scranton Library began expanding its services without appointment beginning Nov. 2, but visitors are still required to wear face masks and follow social distancing guidelines. Library users come in through the Boston Post Road entrance and exit out the doors leading to the parking lot. They must use hand sanitizer upon arrival or wear a new pair of disposable gloves.
Also, children under the age of 2 or those unable to wear a mask must remain in a stroller while visiting the library.
With the new library open, services have ramped up with new programs to benefit the community while accommodating COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’ve stayed innovative with bringing resources to people while keeping everyone safe,” Myla says. “For children, we’ve really worked to reach the kids and parents in the most accessible way through programming on Facebook Live, take-and-make craft kits, scavenger hunts, and sidewalk chalk courses.”
The programs Myla mentions are regular children’s events scheduled either monthly or weekly.
Then, there’s the new podcast called Scranton Talks, which Myla cohosts with Teen Librarian Colin Welch.
“In each episode of Scranton Talks, we have a conversation with a person in the Madison community about a topic they are passionate about,” Myla says. “So far, we have talked about topics such as retro video game collecting, backyard chickens, and lifestyle habits. The goal of the podcast is to connect Madison through shared interests and new information.”
Episodes air every other Wednesday at midnight on SoundCloud and Spotify and are usually about 45 minutes, Myla adds. Anyone interested in being on the podcast can send an email to email@example.com.
There’s also Team Kindness, a program that Myla admits “has been a dream of mine in one form or another since I started working in libraries.” That says a lot because she’s worked or volunteered in libraries since 2015, including libraries in the towns of Wallingford, Easton, and Guilford.
Team Kindness is a weekly prerecorded video posted to the Scranton Memorial Library Facebook page on Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. through Nov. 18.
“In each short video, I challenge kids in grades kindergarten through 5th grade to perform a different act of kindness. Acts of kindness are either towards oneself, other people, or the planet. Each video is a couple of minutes long and includes a brief introduction by me, a short explanation of the act, and then a closing,” Myla says.
She adds that it provides a jumping off point for caregivers to talk more with their children about the importance of kindness and incorporate the acts into their lives whenever and wherever they see fit. The intent of Team Kindness is to show children that kindness can be easy and fun, while also empowering them to make a positive impact in their community.
Now, remember that riddle about wholesome legumes and lentils? Well, as it turns out, Myla is a food enthusiast, and a health-conscious one at that.
“I’m a big foodie, particularly healthy vegan/vegetarian recipes. In my spare time, I’m always whipping something up,” she admits.
She’ll share some of her skills and recipes when she teams up with another cook, Mary Schulte, on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. for an adult programming event, Thanksgiving 101: Make A Great Holiday Dinner. Participants can register to join via Zoom.
The cooking event is a different kind of enjoyment for Myla who takes pleasure in her role as children’s librarian. She admits that some of her most unusual experiences stem from the spontaneity and authenticity of her young patrons.
“My funniest experiences have definitely been in programs such as story times with toddlers and preschool-aged children. You never know what they will say or do. There is never a dull moment,” she says.
“The experiences that have been the funniest are when I am in the middle of leading choreography for a toddler music and movement class and a toddler sits on my lap or starts leading the group with me,” she adds.
She also admits that working with the Scranton Library staff gives her much professional fulfillment.
“The most rewarding experiences I have had as a children’s librarian have been creating programs from the ground up that are service-oriented,” Myla says.
She adds, “I feel incredibly lucky every day to be working for a library where I can live into my purpose and grow to become the best librarian I can be, while surrounded by coworkers and directed by leadership that share a common purpose and vision.”
For more information about the children’s programs at the E.C. Scranton Memorial Library, visit scrantonlibrary.org.
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