iSchool Graduation Date
ALA, ALSC, IASL, ILA, AISLE
Current responsibilities/How are you using your information skills?
I’m a children’s librarian in a public library, responsible for the collection development of our World Languages collection and programs such as story times and author visits. I also help develop our Educator and Student cards, services, and outreach for the local school districts and private schools. In 2019, I was the drivers and hospitality volunteer coordinator for the University of Illinois’ Youth Literature Festival and while at Kent State, I was able to help at the Church and Synagogue Library Association Conference and Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth, and I volunteered at the Ohio Educational Library Media Association Conference. I’m currently serving on the 2021 Notable Children’s Books Committee and am always looking for ways to be a part of professional library work within city, state (including Kent State!), and national organizations too.
What is the best professional advice you can give?
Know yourself – think of your passions, what skills you feel most comfortable using, and what you might need. Find ways to use that knowledge in your professional life. Be willing to work hard, listen well, think through things in unique ways, and grow.
How do you encourage innovative ideas?
Lots of ways – I like finding and sharing similar resources, using collaborators, infectious enthusiasm, imagining the outcome and working toward that visualization of success, or sometimes plain persistence and elbow grease. I also use humor to help make any massive task, as innovative ideas often are, more palatable. I don’t think you have to be a children’s librarian (although it’s amazing!) to throw out a wonky joke or silly imaginative moment to change the atmosphere into a more positive one. Smiling and laughing obviously makes doing the work more fun. For instance, although the changes a young patron was talking to me about (not going to the pool this summer, having to wear a mask in school) aren’t “innovations” per se, I tried to help. When she changed to the topic of not always listening to her parents, except about brushing her teeth because she loves her toothpaste, because “it’s strawberry and so good. And it’s red!” I tried to run with that for a moment. “Oooh, I’m so glad it was red! I think if it was strawberry toothpaste but it looked green, I would expect it to be mint and then – bleck!” She laughed and said, “yeah, or it could be green but really be orange *holds up hands like the fruit.* THAT WOULD BE WEIRD TOO!” We agreed we were being silly, and then began talking about the changes coming up again for a minute. Although she went off to find the DVDs she’d come up for help finding in the first place, I think we both benefited from that humor in helping us adjust to the “innovations” our society is going through right now. Leave space to let out some steam. Be compassionate to yourself and others through change. Try to make the work involved in that innovation itself as fun as can be.
Do you have a mentor? How have they influenced you?
Dr. Harper was a mentor to me during my time as her graduate assistant, which is one of the positions I am proudest to have held. She really modeled how to have a caring approach in professional settings and how to combine a happy demeanor with successful outcomes and real change. Working with her gave me a wonderful example of establishing good communication, productivity, and support. I look for that in my colleagues and try to be more like her in my own work too.
What do you wish you had done earlier or more often?
Acknowledged hard work more positively – I often pushed myself and had high expectations of others without enough perspective and enough pause for celebration of success along the way. I would take more work and break it into smaller chunks.
How and where do you find inspiration?
Books! 😀 Reading articles online, listening to music, daydreaming, talking with friends and coworkers.
To what values are you committed?
Being caring and working toward a continually more welcome, safe, innovative, and diverse community. Valuing childhood and the rights of children to be free, have fun, and be welcomed as their authentic selves in their personal lives, in schools, and in libraries.
How do you balance your work and home life?
I’m thankful that my library has a strong union and an ingrained sense that personal lives should be given time and attention too. I try to check in with myself on whether I’m getting too overwhelmed, or not whelmed enough. I also try to delegate tasks or ask for help when I need it and be flexible with changes I need to make in expectations.
What are some challenges that today’s information professionals will face? And tomorrow’s?
Explaining our current work and our ideas in development, and advocating for our right to do it with respect and support. Being supportive of each other rather than competitive. Staying steady through rocky times.
How can the library remain important to the community?
Be authentic members of the community. Be transparent and proactive in communication. However, I don’t worry that we might not remain important. People need a sense of community, need the space, and need the services libraries provide.
What websites, apps, podcasts, or other resources would you recommend to explore?
Speaking to other youth services folk: I love the ALSC blog, the Future Ready Librarians group on Facebook, and resources on the ALA and affiliated websites the most. Some of my favorite kids apps are the Endless apps, like Endless Alphabet. For more general skills: I love Duolingo for language learning (not ashamed to say I got my dad to start and he has FAR surpassed me, as of 7/31/20, on day 1,057 of continuous use!) I like the Calm app to stay centered and practice SEL skills.
What is a book you like that you have to defend liking and what is a book you dislike that you have to defend disliking?
There are tons of quirky kids’ books from the 80s and 90s I like but might have to defend (although I don’t actually use them with kids) – “It Zwibble, the Star-touched Dinosaur” and “The Treasure Tree: Helping Kids Understand Their Personality” come to mind.
I don’t think I could publicly speak ill of any book that others like (well…I do discuss books on the Notables committee and sometimes bring up concerns about them, but always with a balance of what criteria they do well too. Our opinions are as anonymous as possible, and we are working to bring books up, not down)! There are 1-2 popular picture book authors whose books are not my taste, despite putting me into a very small minority, but I am still glad they have an appreciative audience. 😊
Special thanks to the Kent State University iSchool Alumni Network for coordinating these profiles. Learn more about the Alumni Network on their Facebook page and group. Students are welcome to join and participate.