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Jane Baird, Young Adult Librarian, Loussac Library
By Stefan Marti

Jane Baird grew up in small villages along the Yukon River in western Alaska. Her parents were both teachers and they moved often, spending one or two years in a village. In Koliganek, a town of 120 people, a small airplane delivered the mail once a week. The landing was right behind the school, and if there was a lot of snow, the "puddle hopper" often flipped over as the front wheel sunk into the snow. "The pilots are tough," Baird says, "they're Alaskan Bush pilots."

The pilots would come over to her house for tea and some food, and her father would carry a large mail bag into the living room. Once a month there was a box of books for her family from the Alaska State Library.

Jane Baird
"It was like Christmas each month," Baird says. "My father would dump out the bag onto the floor and there would be a brown box filled with books."

"My first experience in a library was in Hood River, Oregon," she says. "But it was the air delivered books in Alaska that made me wonder about librarians. 'Who is choosing the books in these boxes?' I thought. And I wondered who chose the books on the shelves in the library."

After Baird earned a B.A. in Biology from Pacific University in Oregon, she went on to complete a Master's degree in Library Science at the University of California at Berkeley. Today, she is the young adult librarian at Loussac Library in Anchorage, and her duties include helping young people choose good books to read and selecting new books to put on the library's shelves.

"I enjoy reading all the new books and deciding which ones to order," she says.

Why are books important? "Books are where knowledge is," Baird says. "There is a special sense of connection between you and the author, as if the book is just written for you."

She believes it is important to read to children and encourage them to read on their own. "It exposes them to new ideas," she says, "and allows them to see the world through other people's eyes."

"Books can be read at your own pace," she says, "and you can reread a section as many times as you want. You can also take them to bed with you. There's a warm and fuzzy feeling in books that's lost in film and television."

A few of her favorite books include the Harry Potter books, A Wrinkle In Time, and Tisha, by Anne Purdy, who lives in Chicken, Alaska.

Photo of Jane Baird is by Stefan Marti

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