‘Singing librarian’ rockin’ the library experience

Libraries are cool, and library people tend to do the most interesting things! Check out this story about a library person who connects with a community using music.

“INDEPENDENCE – Helping children develop a love for reading is as simple as singing a song, according to Joel Caithamer.

Caithamer is the children’s services coordinator for the William E. Durr Branch of the Kenton County Public Library. He is widely known as the “singing librarian” because he likes to incorporate music and song into the programs he operates.

Library patron Debbie Noble visits Caithamer every Tuesday for the Preschool Storytime at 10:30 a.m. at the Independence location. She brings her grandson, 21-month old grandson Evan, and her 4-year-old grandson Owen when he’s not in preschool.

“My boys like the music,” she said. “It seems to get them to interact. Joel is a valuable asset because he gives us babysitting grandparents a bit of his time to entertain our grandkids and give us a break.”

The storytime doesn’t just include a book with large vibrant pictures. The time includes singing and dancing as Joel strums on his guitar or banjo.

“It’s a fun time,” Caithamer said. “I really enjoy it. I like working with the kids.”

Caithamer, 49, of Walton has worked at the library for about 10 years. But admits, “I don’t feel like I’ve worked a day in my life.”

He said he always knew he wanted to get into children’s services and loved reading so the library was a “perfect fit.” He studied library science at Indiana University.

“I love my work,” he said. “Being a children’s librarian, you’re recommending books and encouraging new readers to discover new authors and titles; you’re going to schools to promote programs. It’s all about library awareness. You let the kids know, hey we’re here and it’s not just for homework, the library is a destination.”

Reading is very important and learning to love reading at an early age is essential for a well-rounded life experience, according to Caithamer.

Caithamer also has a deep love for music. He even plays electric guitar in a band. “It’s really fun to perform,” he said. But playing the guitar and banjo for and singing during storytime – well that’s his passion.

“I can’t imagine myself doing anything else,” he said. “This is so much a part of my life. It’s a part of the day to day of who I am.”

Kenton County Library Director Dave Schroeder said the library is fortunate to have Caithamer.

“Joel is an energetic bundle of excitement and creativity,” he said. “He’s constantly thinking of new ideas to reach children and get them involved in reading and being creative. He’s got an eye for things that engage children, and things that will get them thinking about the world around them and how they experience life. It’s part of who he is.””

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