An Interview With San Carlos Libraries’ Carmen Letona

The San Mateo County Libraries' staff LOVE engaging our youngest visitors with fun storytimes and active learning programs! So who are these multi-talented and enthusiastic staff in Youth Services?

Meet Carmen

Let's get to know San Carlos Libraries' Carmen through a series of interesting questions.

Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Carmen Letona and I was born and raised in Redwood City. I've moved around a bit in the Bay Area after college, and spent some time in Portland, OR as well. I recently moved back home and I'm very happy to finally work in the system where I grew up and used to frequent much when I was a child. My previous jobs include working in animal welfare, as well as working at Barnes and Noble.

Choose a book title for the story of your life.

There and Back Again.

What inspired you to work in libraries?

I've always been curious about working in libraries. The idea of being surrounded by books and working with people who are passionate about stories was a strong draw for me. However, it wasn't until after I had my daughter that the idea of becoming a librarian became a serious thought. I remember laying in the hospital bed the day after my daughter was born and being gifted flowers and presents by loved ones. However, the most meaningful present for me came from my local public library at the time (Portland, OR). It was a welcome gift to my daughter with a free board book, application for a library card, as well as parenting and early literacy tips for me to take home. I will always cherish that thoughtfulness and I still have that book today.

What do you do at San Mateo County Libraries and where can we find you?

I work as the Youth Services Librarian in San Carlos. You will usually find me doing storytimes, teaching young kids about 3D Printers, or doing fun arts/craft projects.

What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?

I'm planning several Monday afternoon "maker" programs for kids during the summer! I'm going to show kids how to make stop motion films, follow simple sewing patterns, as well as t-shirt tie dye.

What do you like most about your job?

Our resources here in San Mateo County seem so limitless! I enjoy being able to play with so many toys and teaching tools and then design/implement programs around them to serve my community. The 3D printers are so cool!

What would you tell people about libraries that they might not know?

You can get discounted museum passes through Discover & Go. Also, you can download and listen to lots of great music through Hoopla.

What are you an (un)official expert on?

Gardening. I love growing my own food. I think I am an expert sometimes but most of the time I am just winging it.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

Spending time with my daughter, and my family. I love going to Happy Hallow, opens a new window in San Jose and just having a fun family day.

What book, movie, and album would you take with you to a deserted island?

A book about basic survival techniques. Dirty Dancing (because I never get tired of watching it). Nirvana's MTV Unplugged album. Some of my favorite songs ever are on that album.

Who is your favorite fictional character of all time?

This question is so hard! It is constantly changing. Right now I would say Abuelita from the Pixar film Coco. She reminds me of my own mother, which made me laugh and cry throughout the entire film.

What’s your favorite movie?

Dirty Dancing.

What’s your secret talent that no one knows about?

Knitting/crochet/sewing. I'm a decent sewer

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Flying of course.

What is your go-to dessert?


What are you passionate about?

Animal advocacy as well as early literacy. Baby humans and baby animals are basically the same thing right?

What are three things still left on your bucket list?

  1. Visit Paris, France.
  2. Visit Yellowstone National Park.
  3. Visit Yosemite.

What’s the last book you read?

I read a lot of picture books as a children's librarian as well as being a mother to a five-year old. So the last book I read was The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater. It is about a group of animals along the high seas seeking friendship and adventure. It is beautifully illustrated by brothers Terry and Eric Fan. As for grown up books -- The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. We just had her visit this past February for Comic Art Fest and I even had her sign my book. It is a wonderful story about gender, love, and being true to one's self.

In one word, what do libraries mean to you?


Have you seen Carmen at one of her stortyimes or arts/craft events? Let us know in the comments below.