McKinley Park librarian Katie Boucher leads local programs for young children through teen-agers.

Meet Your Neighbor: McKinley Park Childrens Librarian Katie Boucher

Published July 17, 2022

It’s hard to miss the smile on Katelyn (“Katie”) Boucher’s face when walking into the childrens section of the McKinley Park library. Boucher, a childrens librarian since December 2015 at the Chicago Public Library's McKinley Park branch, is one of the most recognized faces in the McKinley Park neighborhood.

 
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For Boucher, McKinley Park is not just a community, it’s her home away from home, she said.

 
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“I’m lucky to work here, and I feel very connected to the community. I love everything about the neighborhood," she said. "Everyone is amazing, from the kids to the people to the staff.”

From Country to City

McKinley Park librarian Katie Boucher reads "The Cat That Ate the Moon" to children during an online story time.McKinley Park librarian Katie Boucher reads "The Cat That Ate the Moon" to children during an online story time.Boucher started her career as a teacher and worked part-time as a librarian, she said. She enjoyed her library work and eventually achieved a master’s degree in library science. She then started her career as a librarian in rural Iowa.

She fell in love with the McKinley Park neighborhood when she moved here in 2015, she said, and has kept her eye out for an opportunity to move back to the neighborhood while residing nearby. Since landing at the McKinley Park library, Boucher has played a seminal role in supporting childrens programming there, including through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Big Crowds for Story Times

Two "story time" sessions presented through online videoconferencing drew continued big crowds of kids on Monday nights and Friday mornings. At least 30 children would connect on Monday sessions, and Friday story times would draw staggering audiences of at least 75.

 
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Attendance remained constant, Boucher said, and the online sessions allowed kids from all over Chicago to connect and participate.

Back to In-Person

With the library now opening up to in-person events, Boucher has continued programming for young children with Little Learners Story Time on Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. This joins many other McKinley Park library programs and events for young people, from the Fantasy Book Club for teens to this week's upcoming Improv Comedy for Kids class.

 
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“This kind of programming provides a good learning environment for the kids," Boucher said. "They have fun and learn a lot, and it also involves the whole family.”

At the Story Time

Librarian Katie Boucher plays "little mouse" with children during an online story time session.Librarian Katie Boucher plays "little mouse" with children during an online story time session.At a recent online story time session, Boucher started with a song, followed by reading the book “The Cat That Ate the Moon." Boucher said online sessions differed from those in person as she has to hold the book close the screen to explain the story. Online sessions also included interactive games like "little mouse," in which kids had to look for a mouse under differently colored houses.

“A Zoom session gives every child an opportunity to speak up," Boucher said. "Kids also get a chance to enjoy the spotlight and share their favorite things with me in the show-and-tell time we have at the end of story time.”

 
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All Opportunities to Grow

Boucher currently spends her time collecting bilingual books for kids in McKinley Park: a mostly Latino neighborhood. She also loves decorating, telling stories and ordering books, she said, and works with local daycares and ward offices to support childrens programming and events.

Boucher said she is especially excited about this summer's library programs, which are being held in person or the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19. These programs encourage kids to read and close any learning gaps during summer break, she said.

“The McKinley Park kids are so curious and kind," Boucher said. "They need all the opportunities they can get to grow."

Ms. Katie is the best children's librarian ever.

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