Open Book: May 2023

Q&A with Brystan Strong

Brystan is the Youth Services Coordinator for JCLS.

What resource were you surprised or excited to learn the public library offers?  

Since I work for the library, I can’t say I’m surprised by any of our resources – but I am always most excited to talk about and share information on our Education Services Outreach Department. I feel very lucky to work in a system that emphasizes the importance of the partnership between schools and the public library. The fact that we have an entire department whose sole roles are to help students and teachers is remarkable to me.   

What is your favorite book memory?  

There are two that stand out to me: the first being when I checked out Bunnicula for the first time at my school library. I remember checking it out specifically because I thought it would be a scary book, and because I wanted to read a scary book. Those of you who have read those books are probably laughing because you know they aren’t scary at all, but that cover is spooky! The second book memory I have is when I first realized how beautiful or interesting specific sentences in a book could be. I was so drawn to the first line in Charlotte’s Web (‘Where’s Papa going with that ax?”) – that I just HAD to continue reading. Before then, I’d read books, and the moment I was done with them I don’t think I could have recited a single line from them. I liked reading, and consumed stories for the plot or action – but this was the first time that I was really struck by the language in a book. I don’t think I knew what a “hook” was at the time – but I was experiencing it! 

What media content (podcast, blog, etc.) do you enjoy that might benefit other educators? What do you like about it (Is it funny, moving, inspiring, etc.)?  

I think the Library Connect Blog is a pretty good resource. 

What literacy practice are you excited to share with others? 

I like to encourage parents or educators to engage with their students through books – no matter the subject. For example, before starting your unit on fractions, why not read A Remainder of One by Elinor Pinzces? Or read The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse by Eric Carle before your art unit. 

What book do you think would be helpful for educators to read, and why?  

It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd is one that comes to mind. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how teens use social media. I particularly like how Boyd weaves together teen interviews, research, and her own personal experience. I also enjoyed Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain by Dana Suskind. Although a read geared more towards parents, I think this read is helpful for educators or anyone who has regular conversations with parents, to discuss how language and literacy tie into school readiness.  

What is a skill you didn’t realize you’d need in your role?  

I think I underestimated how important writing would be to my being a librarian. Emails (in all levels of formality or informality), press releases, blog posts, announcements, interviews, etc. I do a LOT of writing in my job.   

Read Outside is our spring programming theme — Where is your favorite place to read outdoors? 

My dream place to read is somewhere sunny and warm – preferably a beach, but I’ll take a sunny spot in a park too. 

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Education Services Offerings

For Teachers: 

  • Lesson plan development 
  • Co-teaching and collaboration 
  • Curated booklists 
  • An educator resources newsletter full of tips, tools, and more 

For Your Students: 

  • Read alouds and class activities 
  • An introduction to library services, materials, and resources 
  • In-depth tutorials on specific resources or databases 

We can visit the classroom or host you at any JCLS branch! Contact your local branch for scheduling.

For Your School: 

  • Tabling at literacy nights and open houses 
  • Stickers! Giveaways! Library cards issued on the spot!


Book Finders

Learning Tools


Diverse Booklists







Grades 3-5



Grades 6-8



High School