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New role is dream job for New Ken, Lower Burrell children's librarian

| Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 1:27 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Katie Donahoe, the new librarian at the Lower Burrell branch of Peoples Library, looks over 'The Tiny Seed' while sorting through books in the children's area at the library on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Katie Donahoe, the new librarian at the Lower Burrell branch of Peoples Library, at the library on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

As a young girl, Katie Donahoe would set her stuffed animals in a circle in her room and read to them.

Now Donahoe, 25, gets to pass her love of reading on to children in her new role as the children's librarian at People's Library in New Kensington and Lower Burrell.

“To be able to teach kids is the best kind of work,” said Donahoe, who graduated from Kent State with a master's in library sciences in 2011. “I've always been looking for a place where I can work with children and develop a program that takes into account all the kids' needs in the community.”

Donahoe, a Mt. Lebanon native who lives in Lower Burrell, comes to People's Library from the Brentwood library, where she had multiple roles.

The children's librarian position became available in September after Mary Wesolek — or “Mrs. W” as she was affectionately known — retired after 16 years of service.

Donahoe took the job in late November.

“I really like a lot of her (Donahoe's) ideas,” said library Director David Hrivnak, ”She has a lot of different perspectives on things.

“Libraries are all about change, and she's very tech savvy,” he said. “She has boundless energy and is open to all kinds of ideas and trying new things.”

Hrivnak said having a strong children's program is a key element to a successful library.

“It's hugely important,” he said. “It's very important for children to have a good experience when they come to the library.

“If they have a positive experience at a library when they're younger, they become better readers and learners later in life. And that's important to continue to develop a strong democratic society.”

One of the characteristics Donahoe will bring with her to the library is her love of music. “I never thought I'd have a job where I'd be able to bring my guitar to work every day,” she said. “Getting kids interested in both reading and music is important to their futures.”

Donahoe said she plans to incorporate music into many of her sessions.

For her, the transition to the Alle-Kiski Valley has been a smooth one.

“I feel like I'm being very welcomed here,” she said. “Everyone's been really nice and made me feel at home.”

Donahoe said she hopes she can become the kind of librarian she had when she was a child.

“I really feel like, when I was growing up, the librarians helped instill a love of books and reading in me,” she said. “I hope to do the same with these kids.”

R.A. Monti is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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