This is our third in a series of interviews with real MichiGirls. Each interview will include a few questions about Michigan as well as a few personal insights. Today we have the pleasure of reading about Ashely. Ashley and I met at the University of Michigan during our second year of graduate school at the School of Information. Both Ashley and I were residence hall librarians. Ashley is a primary school librarian and the city editor for the Chicago City Guide on SavvySource.com. Though she lives near Chicago now, she’s definitely a Michigan girl through and through. Her MichiGirl cred comes from growing up in Niles, getting a bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College, and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan.
What is your favorite Michigan weekend getaway? and why?
I love the beaches on the west side of the state. I grew up a half hour from St. Joe, New Buffalo, and Warren Dunes. I loved going to the beaches with my parents when I was little, with friends when I was in high school, and still try to get back at least once every summer. I’m really looking forward to taking my own little one back to the beach this summer.
What is your favorite Michigan city? and why?
Kalamazoo is definitely my favorite Michigan city. I have so many fantastic memories of the four years I spent there in college and then the handful of months I lived there again before heading to Ann Arbor for grad school. Kalamazoo is a great place to be if you are young, starting out, and on your own for the first time. It has a small city vibe (felt so urban compared to the town where I grew up), good restaurants, fun bars and clubs that cater to the college crowd, parks, civic events, and … the Bell’s Brewery!
What is your favorite thing about growing up in Michigan?
The great outdoors and the four seasons that colored it. I already mentioned the beaches I visited in the summer, but there’s also the forests I explored in the fall, the hills I skiied and sledded in the winter, and the flowers I picked in the spring. I don’t want to l Tim Allen and those Pure Michigan commercials too much, but Michigan really does have absolutely breathtaking scenery!
What is your favorite part of being a librarian?
I love that my days are never the same. I am the only librarian in a school library, so I’m juggling a lot of things. I’ve had jobs where every day was the same and each blended into the next. That is definitely not the case now. More generally, I love helping to make readers out of kids. Seeing kids get excited about a book (especially if they were reluctant about it) is extremely rewarding.
What are your top 5 “must reads?”
Oh, jeez. It’s embarrassing to admit, but since I read so much for work, I rarely read for pleasure any more. I can give you my top 5 “must reads” for kids, though! (I only stand behind these recommendations for the time it takes you to read the list. Ask me another time and I’ll give you a different 5.)
- Anything by Roald Dahl. A little dark, sharply funny, not sugar coated.
- The Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems. Short and simple, but very funny.
- Alice the Fairy by David Shannon. The story of a fairy in training is great and Shannon’s trademark colorful, over-the-top illustrations make it better.
- The Stars Will Still Shine by Cynthia Rylant. A sweet and beautiful story about changing seasons and loving through it all.
- The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. I’m not a huge Seuss fan (scandalous!), but I do love the story of the ambitious Onceler and the Lorax who speaks for the trees he’s cutting down.
What do you think is the importance of libraries in our communities?
I could go for days on this one. Libraries are an equalizer. Everyone can make use of them for free. What many people still don’t know is the endless resources that are available at even the smallest public library. Today, libraries go so far beyond books. Libraries provide computer access, electronic databases, classes and workshops, electronic books, movies, music, and so much more. And, of course, the books are still there but what you see on the shelves is only the tip of the iceberg. Most libraries are part of local, state, and/or national consortia that allow them to access much larger collections then their own. Ask your librarians for help with whatever you’re doing! Chances are, helping you is one of the reasons your librarian became a librarian!