Like a great many people, Rebecca Levitan works surrounded by books, though hers keep coming and going. For the past seven years, she has worked as a librarian at the Baltimore County Public Library, Pikesville branch.
When not at the help desk or between the stacks, the 36-year-old and her husband, Andrew, are busy with their three children — Ziva, 9; Tirtzah, 6: and Elazar, 3.
The two are both originally from New York: she from Rochester and he from Great Neck on Long Island. Levitan graduated from Binghamton University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in history and Judaic studies, and then a master’s degree in library and information studies from the University of Pittsburgh.
While she was in school, her parents moved to Maryland.
Today, Levitan and her family live in Pikesville and attend Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion in Baltimore.
Can you describe your job and what you do on a daily basis?
I work as a librarian, and in Baltimore County, we’re all generalists, so helping people at the desk on computers and shelving. Additionally, I am the youth engagement coordinator for the Pikesville Branch, which means I do outreach to the local schools, coordinate programs and story times, and do my best to stay on top of all the new “kid lit” that’s coming out.
What is the most interesting thing about working in a library?
Definitely the people.
How have you seen literary needs change as technology continues to progress?
I’ve seen more and more people turn to ebooks and e-audiobooks now that they’re so readily available. I’ve also seen just how much social media has an impact on how people read.
What is the most common request you get?
“I’m just looking for a good book!”
Name your top reads these days. Are there a few titles everyone should know?
I mostly read either Jewish kid lit or very fluffy romances. A few of my favorite Jewish kids and young-adult (“YA”) books this year were “Aviva vs. the Dybbuk” by Mari Lowe; “Honey and Me” by Meira Drazin; “Naomi Teitelbaum Ends the World” by Samara Shanker; “Black Bird, Blue Road” by Sofiya Pasternak; “When the Angels Left the Old Country” by Sacha Lamb; and “See You Yesterday” by Rachel Lynn Solomon.
What are your children’s favorite books?
Is it possible to only share enough to fill this space?
Here goes … Jewish picture-book favorites include (of course) “Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins” by Eric Kimmel; “The Passover Guest” by Susan Kusel; and both “Shabbat Shalom!” and “We Go to Shul, by Douglas Florian. As for other picture books, I love “Nannette’s Baguettes” by Mo Willems; “Hedgehugs” by Steve Wilson; “Where Is Bina Bear?” by Mike Curato; and “What If … ” by Samantha Berger, though I’m sure I could pull out even more books I love.
What is the best-kept secret in Baltimore for a family outing?
I don’t know if it’s a secret, but we love Oregon Ridge Nature Center. They often have great family-friendly programming, plus a nature center where you can learn about and pet all kinds of animals, especially when you time your visit to when they’re feeding the animals. They also have beautiful hiking trails and a playground, so people like me who work indoors can enjoy quality outdoor time with the kids.