As a young child, Diana Carillo found a lot of comfort in books, and in libraries in particular. They were welcoming places that helped her cope with anxiety. Now, Ms. Carillo, 26, has been hired as the new children’s librarian at the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor, and she says she wants the library to be the same kind of place for other kids.
“Just because of the experiences I went through as a kid, I found the library to be a safe haven, and I always wanted to be able to give that feeling back to someone around that age,” she said in an interview. “Kids are fun and you can do so many creative programs with them, and I hope to instill good experiences in them so they will want to come back to the library as they get older.”
Ms. Carillo has a degree in library science from St. John’s University. She studied history in college, and she said she was immediately drawn to the rich history of the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) as soon as she walked into the building.
“I think the library and the community as a whole are so proud of where they come from. They want to preserve the beauty of where this community started, and I think that’s pretty unique,” said Ms. Carillo, who is from East Setauket, where the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library opened in 1892, about 18 years before JJML was built. “This building is beautiful on the inside and outside. You almost feel like you’re walking through a different time period.”
She succeeds Jaime Mott as JJML’s children’s librarian. Ms. Mott, who joined the JJML staff Memorial Day weekend in 2017, hasn’t left – she has been appointed the library’s new teen services librarian. Ms. Mott got her feet wet working with teens at JJML on “bridge programming” – meaning activities geared toward older children and younger teens – alongside the library’s previous teen librarian, Mireille Sturmann. With a certificate in creative writing, she is also running JJML’s teen writing program.
Ms. Mott also loves reading teen literature, commonly known as “YA” for “young adult” literature,” so she says the transition was a natural one for her.
“The stories really speak to the human experience,” she said. “They seem to dig deeper and explore characters further. You really feel something. Really good YA is well written. Adults can appreciate that, as do teens. Teens are the first ones to call out if something is not passing the sniff test. It appeals to a diverse group of people – everyone can find themselves in the pages of a YA book.”
Ms. Mott, a Pierson Middle-High School graduate who lives in Sag Harbor, said she loves being the teen services librarian because she’s “placing books directly into the hand of a reader.”
“The difference between children and teens is that children come to the library with their parents, but teens are coming themselves,” she said. “They want to be here and that is amazing because you’re speaking directly to the reader.”
Ms. Carillo’s favorite children’s book is “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein, about a tree that gives unconditionally to its friend, almost to a fault. “It’s a simple book but it conveys some powerful messages,” she said. “There’s a lesson to be learned through both of the characters in the book and I believe it’s a lesson that I took with me through the rest of my life. You don’t forget a book like that.”
Ms. Mott’s favorite YA book is “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson, about a set of fraternal twins who, once inseparable, later grow apart but find themselves coming back together again. “I loved her writing style. It has won tons of awards,” Ms. Mott said. “It’s got twin protagonists, fraternal twins, and I have fraternal twins myself. The author’s writing style is beautiful. Lyrical, but fast paced, with a well-thought-out plot.”
The two librarians said they are enjoying working together. Ms. Carillo said she has felt very welcome, and Ms. Mott said she feels they are collaborating well.
“I think the ultimate goal is to make long-lasting library users,” Ms. Carillo said. “No matter what phase of life they enter, you want them to look at the library and see it as a place they can always come back to. There are programs and services for all age groups, so there’s always going to be something for you here.”