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Falmouth librarian appointed to Newbery committee

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Falmouth librarian appointed to Newbery committee

FALMOUTH —The children's librarian at Falmouth Memorial Library has been appointed to a national committee that will select the next book worthy of the most prestigious award in children's literature.

Louise Capizzo was selected by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to serve on the Newbery Medal Selection Committee. Her responsibilities, which will include reading hundreds, perhaps thousands, of newly published children's books, will officially begin in  January 2010 and will culminate the following January with the announcement of the 2011 winner and honor selections.

Calling the Newbery a "big deal – right up there with the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes for literature," Capizzo said she will use her appointment and the book selection process to generate excitement and interest in Falmouth.

"By Fall 2010 we'll hold a mock Newbery and the community can come together and make a selection of what we think should be the Newbery winner," she said.

Capizzo, who lives in Scarborough, has been the children's librarian in Falmouth for 10 years. She has helped foster a love of reading in children by assisting them in their book choices and by hosting story hours, summer reading programs and reading programs in the community.

"I enjoy everything about (my job), but mostly enjoy working with children of all ages," she said. "I just think kids are really amazing individuals. They have a lot to say and have a lot of interests."

Previously, Capizzo served on the ALSC's Batchelder Committee, which annually awards a publisher for the best book originally published in another country and in another language, translated into English for U.S. publication.

In addition to her library duties, Capizzo writes children's book reviews for Kirkus Reviews magazine and children's audio book reviews for AudioFile magazine; she has been published in several other magazines, too.

Capizzo began her library career in 1977 on Peaks Island, where she ran the branch of the Portland Public Library. But it was an amazing set of circumstances that developed her love of literature and compelled her to become a librarian.

"My parents were very racist and were bigots – narrow-minded – and we weren't allowed to read," she said, looking back at her childhood in Michigan. "I don't remember anybody reading at my house."

When she was in high school, Capizzo said she "got into a lot of trouble" and was assigned community service at her school library.

"The women at the library were amazing. They introduced me to Steinbeck, to authors I had never heard of before," she said. "They became my role models."

During college, after one of her instructors suggested she become a librarian, Capizzo pursued a career as an academic reference librarian. But after coming to Maine and with the help of another librarian, Capizzo said she "fell in love with kids and children's literature."

Now, she not only guides young people toward a lifelong love of books; she will soon have a key part in deciding what their most popular selections will be in 2011.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.