My name is Michael Balkenhol, and I’m the newest member of the NNLM MAR team! As Health Programming Coordinator, my primary responsibility is creating and sharing health information “programs in a box” for K-12, public library and community-based organizations in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. I will also be serving as our team liaison to K-12 audiences. I’m most excited about our partnership with the Collaborative Summer Library Program, to promote health and wellness programming as a core part of summer reading programs at public libraries across the country.
Over the last ten years at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP), I was fortunate to build a career out of my love for sharing books, information, technology, and art with children, teens, and adults. During my time at CLP, my daily work included designing and facilitating in house and community library programming. Some of my favorite programs and initiatives were preschool story time, healthy cooking with teens, and building a community garden. I served as a lead mentor for new teen services staff members and loved harnessing the power of volunteers to increase the capacity of literacy efforts in our communities!
My favorite health and wellness picture books for children are Rah, Rah, Radishes!: A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre, Sick Simon by Dan Krall, and Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton. How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg is my top pick for any young adult (or young adult at heart) who loves a story about a gruesome end.
My personal and professional interests include not finishing books, finishing audiobooks, practicing melty hot yoga, gardening, napping, discussing allergies, searching for the best gluten free bread, watching an embarrassing about of Netflix, traveling (thankfully, given our work at NNLM MAR!), writing humorous lists, fixing up my house, and spending time with my partner Adam and our snuggly-therapy-dog-in-training Labradoodle, Lucy.
If you have advice, questions, or a book suggestion while I embark on this new journey, I can be reached at MAB602@pitt.edu
Written by Michael Balkenhol, Health Programming Coordinator, for the Summer/Fall 2018 edition of The MAReport quarterly newsletter.