Gretchen Caserotti, Head of Children's Services at Darien Library
Gretchen Caserotti, Head of Children's Services at Darien Library

Library Journal has named Gretchen Caserotti, Head of Children’s Services at Darien Library, as one of 50 “Movers & Shakers” for 2010! " Congratulations, Gretchen!

Gretchen was cited for her leadership of the Children’s Library, including an innovative reorganization of the children’s book collections, particularly the picture books, making them easily available to young children. This has resulted in a significant increase in use and is a model now being adopted by other libraries. The article also noted her “innate connection with kids,” which has led to new programs and services. Here's what Library Journal had to say about Gretchen in their announcement.

Each year since 2002, Library Journal has identified outstanding professionals from around the world who are considered the emerging leaders in the library world and whom the editors believe will shape the future of libraries by innovating with technology, advocating for community-based research and programming, and improving the quality of life of the people they serve. The 2010 list of “Movers & Shakers” was announced in the March 15, 2010 issue of Library Journal. Click here to read more about it.

In June of 2008, Gretchen became Head of Children’s Services at Darien Library. She was instrumental in developing the new service model for the New Darien Library, especially within the Children’s Library. When designing the Children’s Library, spaces were organized to meet the needs of two distinct user groups: “First Five Years” and “Kids.” The “First Five Years” section supports and advances the Library’s Early Literacy Initiative, and the “Kids” section addresses the needs and growing independence of beginning readers. Since the Library’s opening of the new building in January 2009, the reorganization has proven to be an extremely successful innovation.

When she learned of the “Movers & Shakers” honor, Gretchen said that she was honored and excited: “I feel like an advocate in the profession for Youth Services,” she said, adding, “It’s nice to have a Youth Services person represented among the ‘Movers & Shakers.’”

Prior to coming to Darien Library, Gretchen worked as a Children’s Librarian at New York Public Library (Chelsea). She credits her choice of vocation to her enjoyment of working with young people and years of studying theater: “I loved storytelling. Children’s librarianship provided the perfect package of fun and play and experimentation. Kids are open to learn with you,” Gretchen said, and then smiled, adding “I’m just a big kid. But I do have a driver’s license.”

Gretchen grew up in St. Cloud, Minnesota and said that Darien reminded her in many ways of her small hometown community. She knew Darien Library by its reputation, and said that when the opportunity arose to work there, she was aware that “no other library in this country gives you the freedom to say, ‘I have an idea. We can make it happen.’ Darien Library encourages that.’”  

Speaking enthusiastically about the Children’s Library staff members, she said, “This team is incredible. I know because parents tell me. They each have tremendous skill sets; they are kind, compassionate, and creative.” She added the surprising fact that five Children’s Library staff members travel to Darien from New York City daily. “It’s a testament to Darien Library that staff members are willing to commute.”

Gretchen stated that she is grateful and proud to be part of the Darien Library and the Darien community and pleased that other libraries throughout the country are paying attention to the achievements in Darien. “It’s such an honor that our efforts serve as a model, but first and foremost, it has to work at home. Darien Library took the risk to navigate the Children’s Library in a new and different way. Being selected as one of Library Journal’s ‘Movers & Shakers’ is a great honor. The reward is in the recognition of moms and kids and children’s librarians.” 

When learning of Gretchen’s inclusion in the select list, our Library Director Louise Berry said, “We could not be more pleased by this recognition of Gretchen’s leadership and innovative thinking. What she’s done, and is doing, has widespread repercussions for the library world, but most importantly, she has assured that Darien Library provides absolutely the best services to the children and families of Darien, and that is our mission.”

Library Journal publishes a “Movers & Shakers” edition annually in March. (John Blyberg, our Assistant Director for Innovation and UX, was named a 2006 “Mover & Shaker” while he was at Ann Arbor District Library.) Now in its 133rd year of publication, Library Journal is the oldest and most respected publication covering the library field. Library Journal is read by over 100,000 library directors, administrators, and staff in public, academic, and special libraries.

Again, congratulations, Gretchen!