I want to take a moment out to celebrate the people in libraries that make it happen on a day to day basis. There are tons of them out there and I think that if I spent one day per year going through them all that I still wouldn’t have enough time to highlight everyone. So, in advance, thank you to everyone who makes it happen in libraries everyday. For now though, I’m going to highlight two people that, without them, I would have a hard time waking up everyday, reporting to the library, and doing this teen librarian thing. When I was down (and if you know me, you know I have many peaks and valleys with my moods) they rose to the occasion and kept all things teen in the world of the library afloat. Heck, it wasn’t just when I was down. They’re always there. These are really the people that make it happen, the people you should be following on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Kathryn Ridge is the Children’s Library Assistant at the Cape May County Library in New Jersey. While I worked at that library, she worked with me on a number of teen projects and kicked my ass into gear to do something new for the teens every month. One of my favorite things that Katerine did was take the lead on a Create Your Own Candy Sushi project. Katerine blew my mind with the stuff she created with these teens out of Rice Krispies, candy, and marshmallows. The other great thing? THE TEENS DUG THAT SHIT. It was one of the few teen events that I didn’t attend myself and you know what? They didn’t even notice I wasn’t there.
Kathryn was the first person who “worked for me” in a library (I used quotes because it never really felt like that and it still doesn’t. It just feels like friends/like minded individuals hanging out and making good things happen for our community). I still have no idea what it takes to be a “boss” or whatever you want to call it but Kathryn taught me a lot. I learned that it was sort of my duty as a boss type person to inspire the people I worked with. Kathryn was easy to inspire because she just rules.
Michael Whittaker currently works with me at the Portland Public Library. Before that, he was the head of the Reiche Branch Library before it closed in July 2010. As sad as it was to see the branch close, I guess I lucked out a bit and got Michael on my team here at the library. He’s done some amazing stuff for libraries in the past. I’ll highlight two things here: the Long Overdue: Book Renewal project that got some press from the New York Times and the World’s Largest Lobster Roll that raised $7,200 so that local kids could afford swimming lessons.
Coming into Portland, I knew my job as the teen librarian would have to involve as much of the community as possible. The problem was this…I was sort of clueless how to go about that. Michael’s one of those guys that’s pushed me along a bit and inspired me to make a difference. I always talk about myself as a cheerleader….well, Michael’s my cheerleader. I couldn’t do this without his support and enthusiasm.