Aspiring Children’s Librarian Pat Toney Receives Support From a Special Scholarship Program

Pat Toney’s path to an MLIS degree started with children’s author Tomie dePaola. In 2006, Toney was working in an administrative job, feeling restless that she hadn’t found a career that felt like a calling. While studying child development at City College of San Francisco, she attended the annual Effie Lee Morris lecture at the San Francisco Public Library where she heard dePaola, the author of her favorite children’s book, The Popcorn Book.

“I decided then that I wanted to be a children’s librarian,” said Toney, who expects to graduate in May 2010. “I love kids, reading and libraries, and it just brought it all home.”
Toney has fond memories of spending her childhood at the Pasadena Public Library in Southern California, where she loved “having new experiences as an armchair traveler through books.”

Toney’s thrilled to receive assistance as she earns her MLIS degree. She is one of 13 participants in the Librarians for Tomorrow program at SJSU, which provides MLIS students with tuition scholarships, mentoring, and the opportunity to network with inspirational library leaders. The program is made possible by grant funds received by the SJSU library, in partnership with SLIS, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Using grant funds, SJSU is partnering with the San José Public Library and the National Hispanic University to recruit librarians from diverse backgrounds, and then provide them with financial assistance and other support as they earn their MLIS degree.

Toney has long loved working with children, and she earned her Masters of Counseling Psychology from Golden Gate University. The self-described “xenophile” is equally enthusiastic about exploring other cultures and cultivating a diverse community of friends. Toney studied both Spanish and Portuguese while an undergrad at UC Berkeley, where she majored in Development Studies with an emphasis on the social and economic development of Latin America and the Caribbean.

After graduating from Berkeley, her jobs included working as a student services coordinator for ASPECT International Language School helping English language learners navigate American culture. She still practices Portuguese and is a foreign film buff who frequents live music venues in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Part of what Toney loves about children’s librarianship is the portal that reading provides into different cultures and experiences. She’s working part-time as a nanny while earning her MLIS. She reads to her charges at bedtime and takes them to the public library “every chance that I get.”