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Bringing books to life for local children

Drago named full-time children's librarian
By Daniel Dunkle | Aug 12, 2019
Photo by: Daniel Dunkle The Rockland Public Library has named Katie Drago its new full-time children's librarian.

Rockland — Katie Drago brings a lot of energy to her job at the Rockland Public Library.

She comes to work dressed as characters from her favorite books. One day she is Alice stuck inside a house from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." Another she brings attention to banned books dressed as a character from Margaret Atwood's dystopian "The Handmaid's Tale."

She has organized events for children at the library, including the popular annual "Potterfest," celebrating all things Harry Potter. Children play games and dress up as their favorite wizards and witches from the series.

It came as no surprise, therefore, when she was recently named full-time children's librarian. She steps into the position recently vacated when longtime children's librarian Jean Young of South Thomaston retired. Drago had previously served as Rockland's reference library technician.

"Nothing makes me happier than working with families," Drago said. "Teaching story times allows me to meet new, young library families and introduce them to all my favorite books, songs and dances."

Drago grew up in Porter, and has worked in libraries in Elliot, Camden and at the Victorian Public Library in Texas, where she was head children’s librarian.

She noted that she and her husband, Keith, had decided to have an adventure moving to Texas, but found they missed New England. They moved back to the area in 2014, along with their two dogs. They currently live in Rockport, and Keith works at the Rockport Public Library.

Drago's new job overseeing the Children's Department includes ordering all material for children ranging from babies to teens and creating programs for them. She has been teaching weekly baby time and musical story time sessions in addition to providing instruction for the monthly STEM program at the library.

Even before taking over this position, she spent a lot of time at the library doing arts and crafts projects with kids. In the winter she helps children make holiday ornaments and snowflakes, and this spring she made toy figures with them using pipe cleaners, beads and straws.

"I adore children’s literature," she said. "I read picture books, children’s chapter books and young adult books in my spare time. It is wonderful to get to talk to kids about my favorite Gordon Korman books or give a suggestion to kids who are struggling. I had trouble reading when I was young, and one of the reasons I am still reading for fun today is that I had a wonderfully supportive librarian who encouraged me."

Drago has a master’s degree in library and information science from Syracuse University, and her undergraduate degree is in English, with a minor in cinema studies, from The University of New Hampshire.

"I have started to work together with Karen Francomano from the Farnsworth Art Museum to begin connecting our communities," she said. This partnership included bringing illustrator Annette LeBlanc Cate to the library for a workshop with children.

"As I begin my time as the head of the Children’s Department, I will start to add more activities and events, similar to my Potterfest and Halloween Hootenanny," she said. "I love programs where I can tie together books, costumes and extension activities."

When she applied for her initial job at the Rockland Public Library, she asked Director Amy Levine about the possibility of coming to work in costume.

"The first costume I made was for Children’s Book Week in 2015, and since then I’ve been hooked," Drago said. "I make about 15 new costumes a year and dress up at least 25 days as different literary characters. It is a way to bring books to life, add some extra fun and color to the library, and get patrons talking about their favorite books."

So far her favorite costumes are Alice stuck inside a house, the room from "Goodnight Moon," by Margaret Wise Brown, and the crab from "A House for Hermit Crab," by Eric Carle.

"There is nothing more rewarding than reading a new book or trying a new science experiment, and then getting to share that excitement and experience with children in the community."

Rockland children's librarian Katie Drago organizes annual events including "Potterfest" where children dress up as their favorite characters from the Harry Potter series.
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Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Aug 12, 2019 16:49

With such enthusiasm it is no wonder this librarian touches the heart of children and the community. Good article and thanks for the information and pictures.

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