The picture-perfect librarian | TheUnion.com
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The picture-perfect librarian

The checkout counter at Nevada Union Library has turned into a giant montage of nearly 1,000 young faces, thanks to new librarian Jill Sonnenberg.

A few months ago, Sonnenberg took wallet-size photographs of some regular library-goers and put them on the counter “to celebrate them as patrons of the library.”

Soon, more students began visiting to get their pictures taken or to check out the photos of their friends. Most often, they ended up checking out more books.



“I love books,” Sonnenberg said. “Ever since I was a child, reading has been a huge part of my life. But it wasn’t until I started connecting books with kids that I realized how powerful books can be. The kids bring the passion to me. They provide the fuel.”

Sonnenberg’s passion for her job is tangible, like heat from fire.




“I have absolutely the perfect job,” she said with a broad smile. “I love it.”

For Sonnenberg, “the library is not just a facility where books are checked in and out; it’s an expression of care.

“When kids come in to see us, we can demonstrate care by remembering their names, their interests, the types of books they like to check out,” she said. “We solicit requests from students. We buy books based on requests from students and teachers.”

Since she was hired in September, Sonnenberg has added 3,000 books to the Nevada Union Library. She shops online, at local thrift stores and library book sales for the best deals.

How does she manage to serve more than 2,000 students in a library that houses nearly 19,000 books? “It’s because of the pleasure” that comes from loving one’s job, she said.

Sonnenberg was born in Evanston, Ill., and raised in Glenview, Ill. She first moved to Nevada County in 1995, though she was at California State University, Chico, between 2001 and 2007 earning a secondary teaching credential, a library credential and a master’s degree in education.

She was also a librarian at the Chico Unified School District between 2004 and 2007. Sonnenberg now lives with her 9-year-old son, Daniel, in Nevada City.

Despite her devotion to her job, Sonnenberg says she’s “very balanced” in her life.

“I make frequent trips to the coast, play tennis and have many friends in the area,” she said.

Sonnenberg’s hobbies include walking in nature, playing the piano – she’s currently working on one of Chopin’s preludes – listening to music and, of course, reading. Her favorite authors include Jodi Picoult, JK Rowling and Dan Brown.

As a librarian, she said, “I do not see my role as struggling to keep reading alive. I see reading as something which will never go away.”

To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail ssen@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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