Volunteer Storyteller Interview: Gina Clark

1. Describe yourself in a nutshell.
I’m a mother to six children, a longtime Orem resident, and a grateful Orem Public Library patron.

2. How did you first hear about volunteer storytelling? What led to you becoming a volunteer storyteller?
When my husband and I moved back to Orem after graduate school, I began taking my then year-old daughter to laptime every week. Four years and two more kids later, I thought I might try it out myself. That was over ten years ago.

3. What is your approach to storytelling? How do you come up with your ideas?
I love poetry, and poetry for young readers, so my approach to storytelling always involves poetry. I like to combine poems on a certain theme with books, folktales, and songs that also address that theme.

4. What is your favorite part of being a volunteer storyteller?
We are lucky to have such a fantastic library in our community, and at its heart are the people who work there. The library is staffed by people who combine their love for books and ideas with their love for people. They are always thinking about how to extend the reach of the library, how to engage more of Orem’s youngest citizens in the energy of language and learning. I love interacting with them, and with library patrons on such a personal level.

5. What do you think it takes to make a good storyteller? Any tips or words of advice to offer aspiring storytellers?
Storytime and laptime audiences are made up exclusively of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their caregivers, so I’ve learned that flexibility and a sense of humor are two indispensable characteristics of OPL volunteer storytellers.

6. Do you have any memorable experiences or stories from your volunteer experience that you would like to share?
I’ve only been inside an ambulance once, thankfully, but that one time happened after I performed a storytime one summer morning several years ago. That morning, my then toddler took a tumble in the storytime wing and hit her head. Her hysterics afterwards alarmed the sweet children’s librarians, who insisted we call the paramedics over just to make sure nothing was amiss. The ambulance met us at the library doors, and the paramedics checked my toddler inside the ambulance as it parked there. My daughter was all right, and the whole experience made for quite an exciting morning.

7. Do you have any thoughts on the importance of volunteering or storytelling and how it has influenced your life or your family’s life, etc.?
Volunteering at the Orem Public Library has deepened my investment in our community. The library has been called the city’s “living room,” and I’ve come to feel particularly at home there by being a volunteer. We need public spaces like the Orem Public Library, especially in our digital age. The library is a living symbol of our investment in each other as community members, and as such, deserves our support.

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