Q & A with Norfolk’s New Youth Librarian
Allison Riendeau, pictured here with Bill E. Shakesbeare, is the Norfolk Library’s new Senior Youth Services Librarian.
By Grace Allen
Allison Riendeau became the Senior Youth Services Librarian for the Norfolk Public Library in December. She is tasked with developing and managing both children’s and teen services at the library.
She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Salve Regina University, and two master’s degrees from Simmons University: one in library and information science, and one in children’s literature.
Riendeau recently agreed to answer some questions for readers of Local Town Pages.
Where did you work before coming to Norfolk?
After graduating from Simmons, I worked for five years as the Youth Services Librarian at Knight Memorial Library on the west side of Providence, and then at Sharon Public Library (where I navigated the worst of the pandemic, offering virtual and kit programs!). I’ve also worked as a writing tutor, and I enjoyed an exciting internship at Boston’s Museum of Science.
Why did you decide to become a librarian?
Both of my parents are educators, and my mother was briefly a librarian in Seekonk—actually while she was pregnant with me! So, I grew up visiting libraries and reading anything I could get my hands on. I also love working with children, so youth librarian seemed an excellent career path. Plus, my 6-year-old self’s goal of becoming a genie to grant wishes for a living didn’t quite pan out.
What are your goals as the Senior Youth Services Librarian?
I’m hoping to increase makerspace and STEAM program offerings as well as strengthen outreach to the community.
What do you think will be your challenges here in Norfolk?
Meeting the needs of all age groups in a community is always a challenge for public libraries, and Norfolk is no different. Reaching teens is particularly difficult as their schedules are usually jam-packed, so working with our Teen Advisory Board is key.
Favorite children’s books and authors and why?
The Pigeon picture books by Mo Willems! Pigeon’s body language and facial expressions convey his emotions so perfectly, and he reminds me a lot of the toddlers who come to my story times. For chapter books, I love “Ella Enchanted” by Gail Carson Levine, which retells the Cinderella story but gives the female protagonist both a fairy curse and more agency to fight for her happy ending.
What do you read in your spare time?
I read mostly young adult fantasy and some horror. Occasionally poetry, my favorite poet being Nikita Gill.
Tell us your hobbies and interests outside of work.
Besides reading (of course!), I love painting, experimenting with new recipes while dancing around my kitchen, and traveling. I’m also addicted to the true crime podcast “My Favorite Murder,” which is surprisingly hilarious. Other interests include bubble tea, photography, gaming, and pandas.
Is there anything else you’d like the community to know about you?
My last name, Riendeau, is very French, so I usually go by “Miss Allison” around the library. Come say hi!