MLIS (University of Pittsburgh); BS in Ornamental Horticulture (Delaware Valley University; Doylestown, PA); Double minor in Studio Art and Psychology (Mansfield University, Mansfield, PA)
What was your professional background before your current position?
I have experience in public, academic, and special libraries. Before library school, I worked in the Cornell University Library as a Course Reserve specialist (Uris/Olin Libraries) and as a Reference Assistant in the Veterinary School's Library. After grad school, I worked as a Special Librarian at the Main Link Peer Support Center (Towanda, PA) and as Branch Manager of the Van Etten Library, part of CCLD (Chemung County Library District).
Describe your current position:
I am Teen Services Librarian at Steele Library, the central library of Chemung County Library District and the Southern Tier Library System. Along with the Teen Advisory Group, I coordinate and create programs for teens, manage the teen space, the YA physical and e-book/e-audiobook collections, recruit and supervise teen volunteers, create content for our teen social media, and do teen related outreach in the community by visiting schools, and partnering with youth serving organizations in our community. I also recruit and manage the Teen Advisory Group. Occasionally, I give talks related to Teen programming or collection development in our library system, as invited. I also spend about 2 hours a day working the Adult reference desk.
What do you like best about your work?
The variety and opportunity for creativity! In one day I can bounce from report writing, creating engaging social media posts, and planning programming to ordering books and setting up a display using the Severed Limb Ring Toss Game the teens made for last year's Teen Halloween Dance. (Imagine a giant piece of cardboard with plastic severed limbs and bones protruding from it, all spattered with red paint and fake blood. The teens are so PROUD of it, I can't even tell you).
What has been your biggest professional challenge during the pandemic?
Staying in contact with, and engaging teens, remotely. I rely on teen input for programming ideas and more. Without that feedback, it is hard to know what will engage them most. I send out promotional materials to schools, community partners, etc. I never know if the information gets shared to teens or not. I use social media to advertise books, services, programs, ask for teen input, and just to be goofy and interact with them. It is tough when there is usually minimal response. Zoom and online fatigue keep most teens away from our online events, I find. Focusing on the handful of teens who remain engaged with us, and seeing that other librarians are facing the same challenges, (Thanks, Teen Services Underground facebook page!), helps me to fend off the feelings of discouragement.
How are you seeing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion play a more prominent role in your work environment?
I'm enjoying the increase in YA fiction and non-fiction featuring LGBTQ+, disabled, POC (people of color), and indigenous main characters. I'm hopeful that by reading these books and graphic novels, (or even just being surrounded by the titles), teens will have more empathy and understanding of other's experiences and viewpoints that they may not encounter in their own everyday lives. I know that these books continue to help ME do so.
What other organizations are you involved with?
YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association); NYLA (New York Library Association; ALA, (American Library Association); PLA (Public Library Association); ARSL (Association of Rural and Small Libraries)
What advice would you give to someone new to the field?
Take as much continuing education as you can, and never stop! Follow your interests; you never know where or how your knowledge will prove useful. Find a mentor who believes in you and can guide as necessary. Library school doesn't prepare you for everything!
What software/web tools have helped you best pivot to remote work?
Canva, Instagram livestreaming, Google forms/sheets/docs; Zoom, setting up a Discord server for the teen space (with a Teen Advisory Group member's help!)
Favorite blog or website:
What is bringing you hope or comfort right now?
Reading as an escape, finding beauty in nature, connecting with friends and favorite library colleagues, and reading the notes and pictures from the Teen Advisory Group members.
What are you most proud of?
I am so proud of the new Teen Space at Steele Library. For the first time ever, the teens in our area have an actual spot in the library that is just for them. Our Teen Advisory Group, and teen focus groups in the schools, had input into the design and features of the space. It was an honor and a fun learning experience to work with librarian and space designer Kimberly Bolan and her team who guided us through the entire project, from focus groups to furniture selection, and coordinating construction. To see teens' faces when they come in and see what a beautiful space this is, just for them, (and not adults, or little siblings) ...they light up with joy!
What would you like to learn?
I'm fascinated by interior design, particularly library interiors and how it influences users' experience and behaviors.
Is there anything about you that others would be surprised to know?
I cross country ski (when it snows enough), I paint and draw, am addicted to chai tea lattes, and grew up on a dairy farm.
Thanks for sharing Doris Jean & congratulations on your Librarian of the Year Award!