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‘Anything is possible’: New La Jolla youth librarian keeps library love local

Katia Graham is the new youth services librarian at the La Jolla/Riford Library.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

With novel programming and a new position in her community, Katia Graham hopes other La Jollans will book it to the library.

Graham is the new youth services librarian at the La Jolla/Riford Library, taking over July 5 for Dana Sanchez, who transferred to the Point Loma branch.

“I started out volunteering at this library a few years ago,” Graham said, “so for me this is coming home.”

For Graham, who lives in La Jolla with her husband and two sons, ages 5 and 8, being a librarian is “a second career for me. I was a journalist in my past life.” Graham was a general assignment reporter at an NBC affiliate station in Imperial Valley after obtaining a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

“I knew that when my youngest child went back to preschool that I wanted to go all in on what I love to do, which is being in libraries,” Graham said. She began volunteering and earned a master’s in library and information sciences from USC.

“It just all worked out,” she said. “I think when you’re passionate about something and you work hard at it that it just falls into place more often than not.”

Before being hired in La Jolla, Graham was the children’s librarian at the Coronado Public Library, where she worked for two years.

Coronado resident Alexis Crane, 8, and her father, Scott, traveled to La Jolla on July 22 to see Graham in her new spot. They stayed for a session of Graham’s Preschool Story Time.

Alexis Crane (left) traveled from Coronado to visit new La Jolla youth services librarian Katia Graham.
Alexis Crane (left) traveled from Coronado to visit new La Jolla youth services librarian Katia Graham, saying Graham has helped her become a better reader.
(Scott Crane)

“Miss Katia used to be our librarian and I miss her,” Alexis said. “She was always so nice to me and recommended a lot of books that helped me become a really good reader.”

Alexis said Graham “makes story time really fun, too, so that’s why we picked today to come visit.”

Graham said she was “so touched” that the Cranes came to visit. “You get really attached to the community,” she said.

Graham said going back to work in person after libraries were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic was emotional.

“My broadcast background came in handy when we had to transition to online programming at the flip of a switch,” she said. “It’s very nice to have people back in. I think we’ve all missed each other.”

To bind herself further to the La Jolla community, Graham has planned several new programs that have either already begun or will start by Monday, Aug. 2: Baby Story Time at 1 p.m. Mondays, Toddler Story Time at 1 p.m. Tuesdays, Bilingual Story Time at 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays and Preschool Story Time at 10:30 a.m. Thursdays.

The Bilingual Story Time, geared to young children and speakers of all levels, is “going to be great,” Graham said. It will be conducted in a different language every week.

“It’s really a cultural celebration,” Graham said. “Our staff are so diverse. We have somebody who speaks Tagalog, we have somebody who speaks Farsi, we have a great volunteer who speaks French. … I’m originally from El Salvador. I grew up in Miami [and] speak Spanish.”

“Put the ‘A’ in STEAM,” an arts and crafts program for elementary school-age kids, will be held at 3:30 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of every month starting Aug. 3.

There also will be a 3-D printing workshop at 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 16, for children to make their own keychains for backpacks, she said.

Graham said she also is working to expand volunteer opportunities for teenagers at the library.

“We’re just focused on bringing the outside in and setting up more programs, because this is where people can come to be connected to the community and get their lifelong learning fix,” she said.

“Anything can happen in a story; anything can happen in a library. That feeling that anything is possible is something that I feel so much when I’m in here. We want all the community who comes in here to feel that way, too.”

The La Jolla/Riford Library will change its hours starting Saturday, July 31. It will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Until then it is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

For more information about programming, visit sandiego.librarymarket.com/events/month.