Victoria Castaneda is a Youth Services Librarian at the North Branch Library in Mesquite. She helps develop programs geared toward children of all ages to promote literacy in the community.
Tell our readers a little about you.
I have lived my whole life in the DFW area, and though both of my parents are from different parts of the country, north Texas is our home. As a child, I found reading to be very difficult but with help from family, librarians, and teachers I quickly became a voracious reader. I’m also a big animal lover. I have to admit that I am a big nerd and every year I try to attend as many local sci-fi and anime conventions and expos as possible. I love to engage with young library visitors about new graphic novel series whenever I can.
How did you get involved with the Mesquite Public Library?
I was hired in early 2022 as a Youth Services Librarian. I had just finished my Master’s degree a few months prior and was looking for a full-time librarian position. I live nearby and had always hoped that I would be able to work in the community I live in, and now thanks to the Mesquite Public Library, I do.
What is your role with the library?
As a Youth Services Librarian, I develop programs geared toward children of all ages. These programs often encourage and support literacy skills, creativity, and STEM learning. I participate in outreach events and encourage people to learn about the library and all of its awesome programs and resources. I also help select children's materials, such as books and movies, to add to the collection at the branch library. With others on staff, I help decorate the children’s area for holidays and special events. Lastly, I assist patrons of all ages to utilize the library resources such as accessing various materials and using library technology to the fullest.
What has been most rewarding working with Mesquite youth?
The most rewarding part of my job is helping kids connect with content, whether that be with books, movies, or programs. I enjoy seeing kids enthusiastically engage with what they are reading or learning. There is no better feeling than seeing a child smile when you help them find a new book in their favorite series or encourage them to try out a fun science experiment.
What have been some challenges you’ve faced?
I think one of the biggest hurdles that libraries are facing is beating the preconceived notion that libraries are only for quiet reading and studying. Libraries offer so much more than most people realize. They are excellent resources to help connect with community organizations, locate technology help, attend free educational activities for children, access low-cost print services, receive job-seeking assistance, and much more.
What do you feel is the importance of a library to a community?
Libraries are a vital part of the community. They are amazing information resource hubs that help connect the public to the resources available to them. Libraries allow people to better engage with their communities and seek out materials for work, learning, or entertainment.
What can residents expect from the library in the near future?
Both Mesquite Main Library and the North Branch are gearing up for spring break. At the start of the break, we are going to be having our awesome Spring Fling Party at the North Branch where we will be having a petting zoo, STEM activities, games, and other super fun activities. Then for the rest of the week, both libraries will be having extra exciting programs for families such as Library Playdate, Lego Club, Family Games, Art 101, and more. We are also planning for our busiest time, which is during the summer reading program. The latest news is that the North Branch Library was recently awarded a Family Place grant from the state library. I am looking forward to the training and resources those funds will provide to benefit families in the community.
How long have you lived in the area?
I have lived on the cusp of Mesquite and Garland for the majority of my life and many of my friends and family live in and around the city. Throughout my life, I have often had the opportunity to enjoy the community and activities that the city of Mesquite can offer.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
When I was a senior in high school, I took my graduation photos at Palos Verdes Lake Park. My mother and I walked all around the park on a bright and windy day taking what felt like a hundred pictures and trying to avoid stumbling over the ducks. I remember at first feeling a bit foolish in my black robe and cap while trying to keep my hair from blowing in my face. My mom of course was super enthused, she loved doing photoshoots and she was quite happy that I decided to have her as my photographer. In the end, we had a really fun day at the park, and I had some great senior pictures in front of the lake. Also, a lot of pictures of ducks.
What are your hobbies?
I’m a bit of a homebody so most of my hobbies center around indoor activities. I of course enjoy reading, mainly horror and romance, but I also enjoy cooking, watching movies, and playing board games with my friends.
If you were stuck on a deserted island, what’s one thing you could not live without?
If I am totally honest, probably my phone. It’s just such a great tool. It’s what allows me to keep in touch with those closest to me and it gives me constant access to whatever piece of media I am currently engrossing myself in. Bonus, I can also use it to call for help!
What’s one thing about you that readers would never guess to be true?
I really like trivia. I’m sure by now that my co-workers have come to realize that. I just enjoy collecting random facts and bits of information about things I find interesting. If I can compile them into a list or game, even better. Ever since I was a kid, I have enjoyed doing this. One of the first books I bought for myself was "The Book of Lists for Teens" by Sandra and Harry Choron.
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