A child’s positive and engaged relationship to reading, critical to their lifelong success, is forged early on. With 10 years of service at the helm of the Youth Services Department at the Crowell Public Library, youth services librarian Tera Torres, has been in charge of just that. In recognition to her service to San Marino’s children, Torres was named the City of San Marino’s Employee of the Year for 2018 by City Manager Dr. Marcella Marlowe.
“She’s really fantastic,” said Marlowe.
Torres, who holds a Master’s in Library and Information Science, said the award took her by surprise and she was delighted for the library and her department to be recognized.
“It was really nice just to hear the library and the Youth Services Department being recognized for all the work we do,” Torres told The Tribune. “I have amazing coworkers and I especially love my Youth Services Department. For me, it just really warmed my heart to see the other city departments recognize that.”
In the past year as department head, Torres produced 240 innovative programs for children and teens with nearly 7,700 children attending. Offerings have ranged from a Harry Potter-themed magic show to a tea party in honor of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, according to city librarian Irene McDermott who nominated Torres.
“Kids’ introduction to the library makes them love the library forever,” said McDermott. “She’s responsible really for getting children to be lifelong library users. It’s an important function.”
Torres also introduced a program called Pre-school STEM Storytime for children ages three to five years old, leading kids in the exploration of object density by testing to see if a large and heavy pumpkin would float in water (it did, to the surprise and wonder of the children). Torres’ passion for education also led her to expand the number of storytimes offered at the library to five days a week, up from four. Storytimes include both baby and bilingual Chinese/English varieties. The bilingual storytime was spotlighted in The New York Times in 2012 as being unique.
“She researches everything so that all of our programming is age appropriate for each level of development,” McDermott shared. “She knows things that we don’t know.”
Each year Torres manages the Summer Reading Club. This year’s theme was “Reading Takes You Everywhere” and over 900 people participated, including babies, teens and adults.
According to McDermott, one parent wrote of the Summer Reading Club, “the kids get excited/motivated by the program. They love receiving prizes and knowing that they are entered in raffles. It helps inspire them to read! My daughter really enjoys creating art for every week and gets more invested in the material she’s reading as a result. It’s terrific!!”
“Introducing children to books and reading is one of the most important functions of a public library,” said McDermott. “Tera and her department consistently attain this objective with creativity, resourcefulness and expertise.”
In her role, Torres works to manage a budget of over $50,000, supervising three part-time employees and selectively purchasing all the children’s books for the library. She also assists with providing free tutoring at the library via tutor.com.
“Tera is very skilled at what she does,” McDermott said. “She takes it very seriously.”
“I just want to thank the city for their continual support of the library,” said Torres. “We’re very popular not just across children’s but all ages from senior programming to baby programming. Looking ahead, we would really love to have that continued support from the city.”