When Morales, the new executive director for the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative, first arrived here from Pago Pago, American Samoa, she caught up on her sleep, then she took her two daughters to Gulf Beaches Public Library. "I know it sounds stereotypical that I did that as a librarian but that's where we went, and I registered my children for the library's summer reading program,'' she said.
Morales, who gave up life on the Pacific island to be closer to her family in Florida, served as the territorial librarian in American Samoa for 16 years. She earned a master's degree in library and information studies from the State University of New York at Albany as well as a bachelor's in fine arts from Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y.
She is settling into a new home in St. Petersburg with her husband, Livi Polataivao, and daughters Malia, 10, and Elisa, 8.
What's on your nightstand?
I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior. I'm on Page 3. I enjoy her. I like how she speaks to the average person, and it is not anything fantastical or out of the ordinary.
Do you remember what book of hers you first read?
The Bean Trees. In that one, I really liked her perspective on the Tucson (Ariz.) area and then the migrant population from Mexico. It was a part of the U.S. I hadn't been to before.
How would you describe the average library patron in American Samoa?
The majority of the books that are borrowed from the public library are children's books, prekindergarten through sixth grade. The books in the library were mostly American authors because there are no publishing houses in Samoa, but whatever we could find in the Samoan language, we'd try to have that, too. Adult readers were interested in romance fiction and murder mysteries, like readers in the U.S.
Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163.