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May 5, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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Feather River Bulletin Wednesday, May 5, 2010 11A # 0 tlr n c Linda Satchwell Staff Writer Isatchwell@plumasnews.com Jeanett'e Brauner is retiring as Plumas County children's librarian after 31 years a simple sentence that says a lot, as generations of children and former children are saddened by her departure. Brauner's entry into library work in Plumas County came through a one- time grant, administered by then county librarian Joyce Scroggs. The grant was intended to fund materials for a "Demon- stration Rural Children's Project." According to Scroggs at the time, children start losing interest in the library in grades four to five. To try and reverse that trend, Brauner, who has a master's in library science from the prestigious U.C.- Berkeley program, was hired to implement an after-school program that encouraged children to get involved in their local libraries. The kind of hands-on pro- jects that engages children's senses and reinforces what they read is still a staple for Brauner. As an example, she said "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" is a book she often reads to young chil- dren. After the story is finished, she'll have the children do an art project where they make caterpillars that turn into butterflies. It's all very low budget she said colored paper and imagination are mainstays. The important thing is that "it has an educational compo- nent, where (children) use their hands, eyes, minds -- all their senses." Brauner comes to her love of books through hard won experience. She wasn't a reader as a child. In fact, she didn't even know what a li- brary was until one day, at 's libraria Cards and letters of thanks and farewell to Jeanette Brauner, retiring children's librarian, cover the walls in the library's meeting room. Part of Brauner's mission statement reads, "Reading and other communication skills are of intrinsic importance to the happiness and well-being of children in our society." Brauner has spent 31 years imparting that love of books to the children of Plumas County. Photos by Linda Satchwel] the age of 10, when she went into a library in North Holly- wood to use the pay phone. She looked around and saw rooms full of books a whole new world for her. Brauner said she was too shy to ask for help, but she found where the newly returned books were shelved and went through these looking for titles that she "might want to take home." She got herself a library card, and her love of reading began. "That was the seed," she said. Still, she grew up thinking she wasn't smart. "I was lost at school," said Brauner. Characteristic of her posi- tive outlook, she sees the bright side of this experience:. "For kids who can't seem to 'get it,' I feel like I can be a role model for what can happen when they discover books." Brauner also said it never occurred to her to be a librarian. "but life takes its turns." While at library school, she dreamed of working at U.C.-Berkeley's Bancroft Library, which is an archive for rare books. When that didn't happen, she thought she'd be a refer- ence librarian. With her husband, who is an engineer for the Forest Service, she found herself in Fresno. There, she worked at the county library, primarily answering adult patrons' questions and helping them find fiction titles that they'd enjoy. With the inevitable budget cuts that have become a given in Brauner's career, she had to shift to a different area. She was gwen a choice between the children's room which was as big as the entire Plumas County Library or the reference desk, which in Fresno pri- marily involved helping businessmen with finaYlcial questions. There, Brauner's children's library experience began. Life's turns took Brauner through Plumas County on a vacation. "This is where I'd love to live," Brauner told her husband. As a 0 geotechnical engineer, he Was able to negotiate a job leanette Brauner, who is retiring after 31 years as the county's with the Forest Service that children's librarian, shares her books with (from left) Ali Roe, 3, allowed them to move to and Pamela White, 10. Pamela is a volunteer in the Children's Quincy. Room. She's been coming to the library since she was a baby. Brauner said when they All Roe's mother, Amy, recalled coming to visit Brauner in the came in 1978 there was no library when she was a child, place to live, not even a rental. They lived in motels and even their car. She said when No one offers the services Many of her friends have winter came she was really that the library does she said. been sick or died recently, questioning her decision. The library is focused on and she wants to do some She started volunteering at imparting a love of books to living while she can. She the county library. Then children, finds it hard to imagine not came the grant and her first It can't replace school li-being at the library, however. paid library job. Brauner braries though, and BraunerShe figures she'll probably said during her entire career, laments the loss of school li- volunteer in the schools. there were only a couple of brarians in the county. It has Brauner also teaches yoga, years where her job wasn't in affected her job in that she's and she said she plans to jeopardy due to financial had to split her meager start offering a youth yoga shortfalls, budget and order more non- class: Somehow she weathered fiction than she used to. Finally, Brauner said when them all to create a 31-year School libraries are tied to she arrived in Plumas County legacy. She thanked both curriculum and are essential she didn't have any children Scroggs and Ross Olmstead, she said. of her own and didn't really county librarian in the 1990s, By the same token, public know much about them. Now, for helping to make sure she libraries can offer children a she says she sees children as had a job in the tough times, breadth and depth of litera- the heart of the library's mis- Now. as the children of ture unencumbered by schoolsion, which is to teach the children she first read to say requirements, love of books. It's a lifelong goodbye, Brauner reflects on Asked what she plans to do process; it has been for the meaning of a career that in retirement. Brauner Brauner. She's had the ability allowed her to share her love shrugged and said simply, to start many young lives on of books with children. "My life's an open book " that road as well. 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