Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Get to Know My New Blogging Intern!

2018 is shaping up to be a stellar year here at BDP. After my recent webinar with the Ohio Library Council, I was inspired to start a new periodic series about child management, so stay tuned! Additionally, we'll be returning to regular posts on youth services programming with the help of my new blogging intern, Jennifer!

I'm pleased to introduce Jennifer Johnson, School Age Program Coordinator at Johnson City (TN) Public Library! Of her job, Jennifer says, "I have been serving the school age population of Johnson City for about two years now and loving every minute of it!"

Brown-haired women (Jennifer) dressed in a red and gold tie, socks, and a white dress shirt
(cosplaying as Hermoine Granger) posing with a school-aged child
(Harry Potter celebration, June 2017)

Jennifer was game to answer some questions so we could all get to know her better.

What do you like best about working in a library? 
There are two things I love most about working in a library. The first is being able to help people. I love doing research and helping people find resources, especially when it’s something that’s more obscure. I love seeing their faces light up in appreciation when you are able to locate that super specific book or information that they need. It’s like a scavenger hunt and it helps people to see that they do still need the library and a librarian’s particular set of skills in today’s digital age. The second thing I love is geeking out with people about books that I love. It’s incredibly fulfilling to me to be able to share book recommendations with people and especially kids. When they come back and tell me that they loved the book and they want to talk about it and read more, there is no better feeling than that.

How do you approach library programming?
I really try to listen to what our patrons and our community express an interest in. Our library currently does not have a dedicated makerspace, but our families have expressed an interest in STEM programming, so I have begun a series of makerspace programs over the last year where we focus on a particular skill/material at each program, and have tried to incorporate it into other existing programs (coding with LEGOs, engineering challenges related to book club, etc.).

Besides patron input, I also try to pay attention to what’s relevant for the community at the time, especially when it comes to pop culture and other happenings. Right now, I am in the planning stages of a Star Wars Celebration for the release of The Last Jedi next week. This past summer, we were one of the libraries fortunate enough to receive eclipse glasses, and we had a couple of programs leading up to that. That was a huge event for our community even though we weren’t in the path of totality, but it was all everyone talked about for months.

Other than that, I just follow librarians on social media and look for ideas from them that I can adapt or tweak for my patrons. I love to see what others have successfully done and implement it for our patrons if there’s an interest.

Jennifer in a pink shirt with shooting start (cosplaying as Mabel Pines)
posing with a school-aged child. Child is giving the "thumbs up" sign.
(LibCon event, September 2017)

What is your favorite program you’ve ever done? 
Ooh, this is a really tough question. I have different programs that I love for different reasons. I guess if I had to choose it would be our annual Thrill the World events. For the past two years, starting in September, we have held practices to learn the dance moves to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and then on the last Saturday in October, we have a sort of flash mob performance of it at the front of the library. It’s part of a world record event that happens globally and everyone dresses up as zombies and has a great time!

I love this program for so many reasons, but the biggest one is the feedback I get from the patrons who participate. Our dancers’ ages have ranged from 4 to 60 in the past, and particularly, the older participants always express a sense of pride and accomplishment at the end for seeing it through. We host hour-long practices over the course of five weeks and then our culminating event is two hours long, plus all the time they put in at home practicing, and “Thriller” is not an easy dance! I am always so proud of them for taking on something so physically demanding and owning it. And our young patrons love the dress up aspect of it. One mom told me last year that her little girls and several others who were participating had a big dress-up/makeup party at their house beforehand and it was like they were getting ready for prom!

Another reason I love this program is that it tends to get the library some positive press and attention. It shows the community that we are not just stuffy shushers and peddlers of books. We have a wild side and we are not afraid to get loud and have fun!

[Bryce note: Check back in January for a full write up of this program! ARE YOU PUMPED FOR THIS YET ARE YOU]

Tell us about your biggest program flop! 
This past spring I tried to put on a homeschool project fair at our library. We had had patrons asking for special programs for homeschoolers for so long and we thought that would be an easy way to see if they would actually come if we offered something just for them. We advertised it specifically to all of our homeschool families and seemed to have genuine interest, but when it came down to it, only one kid actually signed up to show his end-of-the-year project and we ended up cancelling the entire thing. I’m still not sure where I went wrong on that one. Maybe it wasn’t the type of programming our homeschooling families wanted or maybe I didn’t get the word out with enough time in advance. For whatever reason, it just did not take off. So back to the drawing board on that one.

If could have any superpower, what would you choose? Probably telekinesis because I can be super lazy sometimes and I’m short so it would help me reach things in tall places. Also it’s basically like using the Force! You want the TV remote but it’s all the way across the room? Don’t get up! Just float it over!

Describe yourself in a GIF or a meme.
Wholesome Memes are my jam. Below is one of my favorites. =)

Cat with a birthday hat and a wand, looking like a wizard
casting a spell.
Text reads "WOOSH, you have my love and support"

Join me in giving Jennifer a warm welcome!

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