By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Roxanne Starkin fondly recalls her childhood when her mother was studying for her bachelor’s degree and carted her and her sister off to the children’s area at the Worcester Public Library. After settling the siblings there, her mother would head to the adult section to accomplish her coursework. Library use was a family affair. To this day, Starkin loves libraries and loves her career as a children’s librarian at the Shrewsbury Public Library.
Although Starkin treasured the outings with her family to the main branch, she also loved walking alone to the school branch near their home. She still remembers Worcester Public Library Head Librarian Penny Johnson and May Street School Librarian Polly Hess as being adults who made an impact on her as a child. She now gives her all to being an adult who makes a lasting impact on the children she serves.
One way Starkin tries to spark children’s interest in literature is by dressing up as a book character each Halloween.
Her favorite costume to date is “Old Mother Hubbard” that she wore in 2017.
“I put together this outfit from items found at a local thrift store and vintage accessories from elderly family members,” she said. “I stayed in character all day at work – hunched over, draped in a shawl, hobbling with a cane and looking out over the top of my metal rimmed vintage glasses.”
Starkin also dresses up on Pirate day.
“Sept. 19 is ‘International Talk Like a Pirate Day,’ and for many years I have dressed up like a female pirate and hosted a party. Picture books about pirates are really popular, and each year I enjoy reading aloud in a gruff voice using pirate lingo and looking out at a sea of pirates in training.”
Running programs for kids is something Starkin has a true passion for.
“I hope that the children who participate in my programs have fun, learn a little something, and develop a love of books and reading,” she said.
Book Beats is an interactive early literacy music and movement program she developed many years ago at former library job. For this program, she reads or sings a book aloud and hands out scarves, rhythm sticks, percussion eggs, and other instruments.
Starkin created Tinker Time, a “STEAM friendly” (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) preschool program in conjunction with a grant the library was awarded in 2018. In this program, kids explore a variety of stations such as a rotating art project table, an area for measuring and sorting, another with kinetic sand, dinosaurs and sea creatures and a pompom sensory bin. The children experience stations at a self-guided pace, while their grownups can interact with them at whatever level they pick.
“This style of programming can foster independence in the child as well as providing an opportunity for adults to network, share information, and build personal relationships with other families in the community,” Starkin said.
Starkin couldn’t be happier about her career choice.
“The thing I like most about my job is that I get to come to work every day at an institution whose mission I fully believe in,” she said. “I know that the work I personally do is leaving the world a better place. How can you beat that?”