Staff Spotlight: Tara Hornbeak

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Books Alive HPL Blog

This interview is first in a series where we highlight our staff and ask them a few questions about their creative process. Earlier this month, we had our annual Books Alive! children's book festival where Tara Hornbeak, Youth Services Manager at Park Place Regional Library was responsible for this year's decorations. What follows is a Q&A between Norola Morgan and Tara: 

Q. How did you end at HPL? What is your secret creative super power?
A. My background was in elementary education. After teaching in South Korea and subbing in the States for a few years, I realized that what I enjoyed most was getting children excited about reading. Becoming a children’s librarian was the easiest decision of my life! Fortunately the Houston Public Library provided me with that opportunity. As for my secret creative super power, I suppose that would be the power of replication. I’m pretty good at making carbon copies of crafts, displays, etc. without patterns or instructions.

Tara Hornbeak HPL Books AliveQ. What inspires your creativity?
A. I love visiting other libraries and browsing Pinterest to get ideas for library displays and programs. There are so many creative people in the world!

Q. So..........tell us about this thing called Books Alive! Should we be afraid? Are the books coming to get us?
A. The only thing to be afraid of is missing the event! Books Alive! is a huge celebration held at the Central Library each year which features the works of one author or illustrator. This year we are celebrating Grace Lin, author of such books as Dim Sum for Everyone! and Bringing in the New Year. Fans will get to meet Grace Lin and participate in crafts and activities inspired by her books.

Q. How did you get involved with Books Alive!?
A. I helped hang up decorations several years ago, when Jarrett Krosoczka was the featured author. It was so much fun seeing his books brought to life! Fortunately I was able to join the art committee the following year, and I have had the amazing honor of serving as art director for the past two years. 

HPL Wall ArtHPL Chinese New Year Art

Q. What is your vision for this year’s festival?
A. Grace Lin's stories are rich in Chinese culture, and her illustrations are extremely colorful and pattern-filled. Several very talented librarians are working to capture these components as they make beautiful paper fans, origami animals, life-size characters, and one very cool dragon!

Q. What awesome activities have been planned?
A. I'm really looking forward to this year's celebration because we have so much excitement planned! In addition to meeting our special guest, Grace Lin, families will get to enjoy a lion dance performance, inflatable obstacle course, and mini planetarium. There will also be balloon artists, food trucks, art activities, a book sale... the list goes on! It's sure to be a fantastic event, so I encourage everyone to come!

Q. What is your favorite art technique and material?
A. I love using pastels, because they are extremely forgiving. Make a mistake? Just blend over it! I also enjoy perler beads, which are especially excellent for creating 8-bit video game characters. As for library displays, butcher paper and paint are my go-to materials.

We hope you enjoyed reading about Tara and her creative process. We would like to thank Norola for doing a fabulous interview job! 

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