For any parent, nanny, or child in Coronado, Ellenjoy Weber is practically synonymous with the Coronado Children’s Library. The dedicated librarian has worked as the head of the Children’s Library for 30 years, and she is responsible for much of what we love and appreciate about the library today.
After 30 years of service, Ellenjoy is retiring in December 2017. Before our last year with Ellenjoy, I sat down with her to ask about her work at the library, her proudest accomplishment, and what she is looking forward to in retirement. Here is Ellenjoy, in her own words.
The Coronado Times (CT): How long have you been at the Coronado library? What brought you here originally?
Ellenjoy Weber (EW): It was 30 years on January 9th of this year. I had been a children’s librarian for at least eight years before that. I am from northern CA, but I was a librarian in Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas before I took the job here. I decided to work my way around the country!
CT: Did you always want to be a librarian?
EW: I took education classes to be a teacher, but I substitute taught for a year and decided to be a librarian instead. Growing up, my mother brought me and my two brothers to the library every week. We would go downtown, do her shopping, and then go to the library. She couldn’t drive and so we took a taxi!
CT: There are so many interesting details in the Children’s Library. Can you tell me about the colorful gazebo/tent in the middle of the picture book shelves, and the train, puppets, dollhouse, and other treasures you have around the Children’s Library?
EW: Each one has its own story! The gazebo for reading was given in the 1980s from the Del. They used to hold a Teddy Bear Tea each year and then would give the proceeds to the Children’s Library, and we used that money to buy the gazebo. I put money in to redo the cushions recently, so that is an upgrade that you’ll see soon.
The train was a gift from Lionel Rowe, a local Coronado resident, given in 2005 when we did our last renovation. He still comes by and gives us new cars and engines!
The dollhouse was built in 1990. I actually built it with my dad, who was a cabinet maker. My niece died that year and I wanted to do something to honor her. (There is a little plaque in the attic of the dollhouse that honors her.) My dad built the case and the table the dollhouse is sitting on, and I drew the plans and did all the decorations. The front of a house is modeled after the Baby Del house in Coronado.
As for the puppets and the puzzles: the puzzle collection predated me, but I started the puppet collection myself. I guess it was around the time we did the remodel, and the Junior Woman’s Club gave us a nice donation to buy more puppets and a box to put them in. Now the Friends of the Library give money to refresh puppets and puzzles each year.
By the way, the puppets go “to the spa” every couple of months and get washed! Once a year we have a cleanout, retire some of them, and get new puppets.
And lastly, I helped with the Wizard of Oz portal to enter the Children’s Library. I knew the artist, Brenda Smith, because she worked for the Children’s Committee, and she had made some art for the summer reading programs. When Christian Esquevin (Director of the Library) and I were designing the Children’s Library, we reviewed proposals, and Brenda’s was by far the best. We had a whole committee to develop the vision of the Wizard of Oz portal. Everything is true to the book except the ruby slippers. I refused to spend the next years of my life explaining why they were silver!
CT: How has storytime with the children changed over the years?
EW: When I came, there was one storytime, and there was no split for the little ones at first. Because of Proposition 13, the library had reduced its hours when I got here, and they weren’t open a lot in the morning. When we changed it and were open in mornings, I added Tuesday story time, and then decided to divide it and add the one for the babies.
CT: Your story times are so diverse and creative. Where do you get your ideas for songs and games?
EW: Over the years I have gone to a lot of librarian programs, and we’ve bought a lot of new books to keep our story time fresh. When I first came I had an assistant, Shannon, who made hand drawn illustrations for me; I still pull out her illustrations from time to time for songs and games.
All the children’s librarians in the county have a committee. We put on a conference once a year to learn new things. Last year I gave a talk on how to use puppets in story time.
CT: How long have you been doing the dioramas in the children’s library? Where do you get the inspiration for these? Where do you get the materials?
EW: We used to do the display just once a year at Christmas time, but we often got rained out. So during our 2005 renovation, we built the large glass case specifically for the Christmas display. Now we have five or six displays that we can put up at any one time. The current display (the bookstore) belongs to the library director, Christian, and next I’ll put up the tea party, which is mine. Since 2005 we have done a country schoolhouse, a general store (we haven’t done those two for quite a while, though), a circus, bears on the beach, a pirate display, and a dress shop. We also have the Harry Potter and wizard one to put up around Halloween.
CT: What is one of your favorite memories or stories from the library?
EW: When I came here, I started the Junior Volunteers program. The Junior Volunteers need to have finished 5th Grade, and they help me with two plays each year, a mother-daughter tea in May, Winnie the Pooh’s birthday, the Pirate Party, and summertime activities at the library, among other things.
So I think my favorite memory is when the Junior Volunteers were doing the play Cinderella, and all the little girls were sitting on the floor in the front, and they were mesmerized! The girl who played Cinderella went over and talked to them all. The kids were so thrilled.
CT: What is one of your favorite contributions that you have made to the library?
EW: My quilt! We had my artist color pictures of things in Coronado, and then kids colored it with crayons. The artist embellished with puff paint, and the kids wrote names in middle and tied off the quilt. We had a little ceremony.
CT: Any changes on the horizon or things we can look forward to?
EW: Well, I am going to retire in December! I have some things lined up: I am going to help with the thrift store at my church, do some traveling, and help Friends of the Library with their bookstore.
I have always said I love my job because they pay me and I get to play with the kids!
We have loved and appreciated your tireless and creative work in the Children’s Library, Ellenjoy. Thank you for your many years of service, and for teaching so many children to love books and stories. We wish you all the best as you anticipate retirement!