Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

New KCLS director is passionate about serving kids and families

Heidi Daniel also shares her favorite kids' books and authors.

Good news for families who use the King County Library System: KCLS has a new executive director, and she’s a huge fan of programs and facilities aimed at kids and families.

Heidi Daniel came to KCLS from the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. She also had previously worked at libraries in Houston, Oklahoma City and Youngstown/Mahoning County, Ohio. She began her library career working with kids and teens before moving into administration.

She’s been on the job at KCLS for about a month, and she sees a system with impressive collections, beautiful spaces and a dedicated staff. She says she’s been impressed with the variety of offerings and the variety of people who take advantage of them, everything from STEM programs to entrepreneurship workshops to senior programming.

The importance of programs for kids

And of course, those programs for young people that are so important to so many. Daniel, a mother of two (now teenagers) says library visits with her kids are “some of my most cherished memories.

“I loved taking my kids to storytimes and programs,” she said, noting how good those experiences are for both early literacy and socialization.

Her husband, a stay-at-home dad for many years, also spent lots of quality time at the library with their kids.

In addition, she said, if reading aloud doesn’t come easily or naturally to a parent or caregiver, library programs can help. She noted that storytimes, with their mix of books, music and other activities, ensure that kids don’t associate reading with boredom. “These programs are really important.”

Daniel, while emphasizing how much she likes what she sees at KCLS, said she’s open to the idea that its children/family spaces could become even more inviting and interactive.

Technology, of course, has been a game-changer, but libraries have embraced it.

“My whole career, I’ve been hearing, ‘Libraries won’t be relevant,’ and I have never seen that to be the case,” Daniel said.

Instead, the library has become a place to get on the internet — just as it can be a place to do yoga or simply, a safe place for teenagers to hang out.

Daniel can already tell she has arrived in a very active reading community. KCLS boasts the second-highest digital circulation numbers in the United States and the third highest in the world.

In addition, it has 50 locations spread across a wide geographic area, ranging from urban to suburban to rural. In her first three weeks on the job, Daniel had been to 13 of them — plus the library’s big handling and sorting facility in Preston.

New KCLS director’s favorite kids’ books and authors

Finally, we couldn’t talk to a library manager without talking about books. She shared these favorites:

Books:

I Am Enough” by Grace Byers

Say Hello!” by Rachel Isodora

Once Upon a Book” by Grace Lin

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” by Jon Scieszka

Authors:

Jacqueline Woodson: “The Day You Begin,” “Brown Girl Dreaming,” “The Year We Learned to Fly” and more.

Mo Willems: The “Pigeon” and “Elephant and Piggie” books, among others.

Dav Pilkey: The popular “Dog Man” and “Captain Underpants” books.

Sandra Boynton: Numerous sweet, funny rhyming tales featuring barnyard animals — published in multiple languages — and the uplifting “Woo Hoo! You’re Doing Great!” featured in a recent KCLS book selection article.

Brian Pinkney: Illustrator of numerous book including “Martin Rising,” “In Your Hands,” “On the Ball,” “The Faithful Friend,” “Duke Ellington” and “In the Time of the Drums.”

 

More for book lovers in Seattle’s Child:

KCLS staff best books of 2023

Sign up for our monthly Book Corner newsletter (a partnership with KCLS)

 

 

About the Author

Julie Hanson

Julie Hanson is a longtime journalist, South King County resident and mom to a 15-year-old girl.