MLA Featured Library Employee — Pam Wood

Pam Wood, Stone County Library

Meet our newest Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Pam Wood!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

My name is Pam Wood and I am the Stone County Library Youth Services and Outreach Coordinator.

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

A few years ago, my oldest son had just started college and I was still homeschooling my two younger children. I was looking for part time employment and thought a library position would be perfect because I love helping and interacting with people of all ages. I noticed online that a youth services position had opened at the Midtown Carnegie Branch of the Springfield-Greene County Library. I love reading and always loved reading books to my own children, so I knew any position that allowed me to host story times would be perfect. I worked at Midtown for just over four years and I’ve been with Stone County Library since February of 2020. Story time is still one of the best parts of my job!

What keeps you coming back every day?

I was born and raised in Stone County so I thoroughly enjoy serving its citizens. In my current position, I have the privilege of interacting with patrons of all ages during story time, art programs, summer reading programs, school visits, community outreach events, and while delivering materials to our homebound patrons. My job is full of variety so there is no chance of getting bored.

What’s challenging about your work?

Planning summer reading is always challenging! We have a top-notch youth services team and we all collaborate to plan summer reading programs. One of my primary responsibilities is to coordinate summer reading performances and library visits to our local schools. It has gotten easier each year but it’s still tricky because I have to tentatively book performers long before most of our schools know their summer school schedule. Thankfully, our schools and the performers we’ve worked are very flexible when schedules don’t work out quite as I anticipated.

Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

I am passionate about treating all of our patrons with kindness and respect, regardless of age, gender, or lifestyle and even when dealing with difficult issues. We never know what kind of day someone is having and everyone deserves a greeting and a smile.

Who is one of your mentors?

My mentors are my three sons, ages 20, 22, 25. They are all so witty and unique and truly comfortable in their own skin. Recently, I was reminded of just how amazing they are . On July 26th, our youngest suffered the devastating loss of his girlfriend, the woman he planned to spend the rest of his life with, from injuries she sustained in a car accident. His brothers dropped everything and took time off work just to be with him and support him and grieve with him. I’ve always said they have each other’s backs but seeing that expressed in such a tangible, meaningful way was amazing.

What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

This is VBS week, August 7-11, so that has consumed my evenings – in a good way! I’ve also been listening to City Spies by James Ponti. It’s a 2022-2023 Mark Twain Award Nominee and is so much fun. It’s fast paced and the characters are kids that come from difficult living situations and each have specialized talents – computer coding and hacking, amazing deductive reasoning skills, and sleight of hand skills to name a few. In this first book of the series, they end up in Paris, working with MI6 to stop a criminal mastermind. If you are looking for a fun, quick read, I highly recommend it!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is attending community outreach events. If you’ve never had the opportunity, I would encourage you to attend an outreach event in your community.  During the summer and fall, there are many outreach opportunities in Stone County. I love going to these events. It’s so rewarding to engage with our patrons outside of the library and talk with them about all the great programs and services we offer. And when the kids see us at an event, they make us feel like celebrities!

 

Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at smawhiney@missouristate.edu.  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!

Banned Books Week Statement- MLA-IFC- September 19, 2022

In honor of Banned Books Week (Sept 18-24), the Missouri Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee would like to clearly state our position on SB 775 and related actions by legislators, administrators and school board members. On behalf of our members and readers across the state, please join us in resisting attempts to undermine intellectual freedom.

Banned Books Week Statement- MLA-IFC- September 19, 2022

Librarians are no shrinking violets, don’t let our cardigans and thick-rimmed glasses fool you. None of us want to be arrested for doing our jobs, but we will not sacrifice our ethical and moral principles simply because we are threatened. SB 775 confronts librarians with a fine and up to a year in prison for the “crime” of helping a young person find the next volume of their favorite graphic novel. Libraries are not here to protect arbitrary “innocence” or “purity” standards, we are here to protect the freedom and richness of our readers’ intellectual lives. We are here to provide them with access to the world of ideas, and to nurture their development as citizens of the world. This means encouraging inquiry and trusting readers to choose their books.

Librarians hold true to our convictions in the face of injustice done to the rights of readers by SB 775. The members of the Missouri legislature who made the change to MO-Revised Statute 573.550 are engaging in a cynical act of cowardice; the governor became complicit when he signed this bill into law. These politicians would shrink the world to improve their chances to win reelection, and in doing so, shortchange and disenfranchise countless readers in our state. Librarians are public servants who work to support access, literacy, and democracy; all of which are foundational principles that support public institutions. We as librarians ask why Missouri’s legislature seems intent on producing bills that curtail the freedom of the general public, that undermine voting rights, that intimidate long-time public servants in an effort to curtail intellectual freedom. We question what gives them the impression that voters want fewer rights? We wonder if the true wellbeing of their voters even enters into their decision making at all.

Libraries and schools are under constant scrutiny, and are consistently underfunded in our state. While we act in good faith to support the public good, legislators seem to spend their time working to undo any progress we make, scheming and acting in bad faith to undermine that public good in the name of political expediency. This seems, from our careful observation, to be the political strategy of those who oppose intellectual freedom: Undermine public education, limit access to diverse viewpoints through libraries and curricula, and encourage the most negative elements of public sentiment toward ignorance and bigotry. Librarians oppose this strategy. It is antithetical to everything we believe and practice in our work and lives.

We stand against oppressive legislative efforts to undermine the public good, and we stand with our readers.

Joe Kohlburn, 2022 Chair
Intellectual Freedom Committee
Missouri Library Association

Tiffany Mautino, Past Chair
Intellectual Freedom Committee
Missouri Library Association

Colleen Norman, 2023 Chair
Intellectual Freedom Committee
Missouri Library Association

Casey Phillips, Social Media and Communications
Intellectual Freedom Committee
Missouri Library Association

Letter to the Rockwood School District 09/09/2022

Dr. Curtis Cain
Superintendent
111 East North Street
Eureka, MO 63025
cc: Jaime Bayes
Board of Education President

September 9, 2022

Dear Dr. Cain and Ms. Bayes,

We send letters like this to point out the potential impact of harmful policy decisions. When we advise school districts, library boards, or local politicians against infringing on the first amendment rights of readers, we do so to protect the freedom to read. In most cases, these efforts to censor and control what people read are undertaken with some form of nefarious intent, whether that is to push particular political agendas, to foist religious dogma on public institutions, or to undermine the wellbeing of groups of people who have been historically marginalized by our society. In few cases, like yours, we can appreciate that your effort to remove certain graphic novels is undertaken out of an abundance of caution, and to ultimately protect your employees from prosecution under Missouri’s unjust addition to Missouri Revised Statute 573.550, put into place by SB 775 just recently. That being said, the impact of the decision to remove these books will be the same as the aforementioned nefarious efforts of others. In choosing to preemptively remove graphic novels from your collection, you are sending the message to your students that you support SB 775’s intent, which is to chill access to information, art, and culturally relevant materials in your collection.

We noted with concern that each of the graphic novels you list for removal in your recent post is a locus for just the sort of critical reflection that we claim to be teaching in K-12.  All of these works are cultural touchstones representing political issues or aspects of identity relevant to historically marginalized communities. The visceral impact of graphic novels makes them an important tool for promoting literacy, and for grappling with difficult psychological and sociological issues. For example, Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight asks questions about the brutality of our justice system and Katie Green’s Lighter Than My Shadow is the story of the main character’s struggle with disordered eating; these are both books on your removal list. Other graphic novels like Be Gay Do Comics collects stories from diverse artists and writers across the LGBTQ+ spectrum, while Margaret Atwood and Renee Nault’s Handmaid’s Tale presents a dystopian picture of reproductive rights, reflecting the reality in which we now live. These also are on your list for removal.

Obscenity laws like that put into place by SB 775 are simply a means to block access to truth. Visual art, like the written word, is a means by which society views itself through the lens of the author or artist. In this case, it is obvious that certain perspectives are being censored as a means to suppress the vitality and freedom of the reader’s intellectual life. To what end? We ask you as leaders in your district to have courage in the face of this law, to support your staff and your students, and to stand with us against censorship. SB 775 is clearly meant to intimidate districts into taking actions just like the one outlined in your post. Any success of this law will only feed future similar successes, undermining the autonomy of educators as professionals and the wellbeing of students. You will find that elsewhere, as in Virginia last week, laws like this are being overturned outright.  As educators, and stewards of the intellectual wellbeing (not the “purity”) of young people, you must fight back! SB 775’s addition to 573.550 exists exclusively to create chaos in public institutions, and to eventually drive principled teachers and librarians out of the profession. While we can understand trying to protect your employees from being charged with a misdemeanor for doing their jobs, preemptive censorship is ultimately more harmful than theoretical lawsuits that may never come. We as the Intellectual Freedom Committee are also prepared to support you and your district by way of writing letters, providing resources, and communicating with relevant parties. We implore you to reconsider your choice to remove the aforementioned comics and others, and to stand with us in protesting this absurd and unjust law.

Sincerely,

Joe Kohlburn
Intellectual Freedom Committee Chair
Missouri Library Association

Casey Phillips
MLA-IFC Member/ Social Media and Communications

Colleen Norman
Intellectual Freedom Chair-elect
Missouri Library Association

 

Kimberly Moeller
MLA-IFC Member/MLA Executive Board Member

 

Otter Bowman
President-Elect
Missouri Library Association

 

Tiffany Mautino
Intellectual Freedom Committee Past-chair
Missouri Library Association

 

Kris Dyer
MLA-IFC Member/Legislative Liaison

 

Hope Hunter
AASL Delegate/MASL

Statement in Support of MASL

August 11, 2022

Dear Readers,

The Missouri Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee stands in solidarity with The Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL) in their opposition to pre-emptive removal, censoring, and labeling of library materials. We commend our school librarians on the excellent work they are doing in the face of SB 775 in Missouri, and strongly agree with the points they made in their recent statement

To reiterate MASL’s excellent points:

  • SB 775 includes language regarding “sexually explicit materials” in the school setting, but provides exemptions for works that are artistic or otherwise informational in nature. Since that accounts for the entirety of library collections, we strongly agree that school districts should refrain from removing, labeling, or censoring any library materials. We also suggest that organized efforts to undermine school libraries and the intellectual freedom rights of students are antithetical to the mission of public education.
  • Libraries should make sure to have collection development policies and reconsideration/challenge policies in place. If your library would like guidance on creating such policies, you can find it here.
  • Please contact the MLA-IFC if your library has materials that are being challenged, or pre-emptively removed from the collection. We are happy to offer letters of support and other assistance in that fraught and difficult situation.

Finally, we stress the importance of intellectual freedom, particularly to the agency and self-confidence of young people. For many of us, libraries are the first places we are able to truly explore the world of ideas freely and engage deeply with art, science, philosophy, and other concepts on our own terms. The joy and confidence this brings fuels a lifetime of learning and curiosity. Conversely, putting up roadblocks to inquiry, and undermining librarians and teachers sends the message that those in power are not interested in the wellbeing of young people. Working to criminalize librarianship and intimidate library and school boards into damaging their own institutions is a poor strategy long term, since doing so is a transparent effort to use moral panic as an opportunity to gain vulgar political ground. This ultimately serves no one. We instead ask for support for MASL and school librarians in general to do the important work of providing access to materials and helping students to encounter library collections in their entirety, and therefore have the opportunity to learn and to grow within school libraries and beyond.

Sincerely,

Joe Kohlburn
Missouri Library Association- Intellectual Freedom Chair, 2022

Casey Phillips
Missouri Library Association-Intellectual Freedom Committee Member/ Social Media and Communications

Otter Bowman
Missouri Library Association President-Elect

Kimberly Moeller
Missouri Library Association – Executive Board

Ying Li
Missouri Library Association-Intellectual Freedom Committee Member

Kris Dyer
Missouri Library Association-Intellectual Freedom Committee Member/Legislative Liaison

MLA Featured Library Employee — John Greene

John Greene, Mid-Continent Public Library

Meet our newest Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, John Greene!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

My name is John E. Greene. I’m employed by Mid-Continent Public Library District covering 32+ branch locations throughout Jackson, Clay, and Platte Counties. I coordinate the grounds and landscape for the facilities department proposing, contracting, and outsourcing maintenance programs and projects.

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

Service to my community is what originally got me interested in working at a library, and I’ve always been drawn to the outdoors, so it’s a good combination. As a kid growing up, I spent most of spare time in the public parks near my house. One park encompassed a living history museum and a library. I had free access to it every day and the programs there were inclusive. I’ll never forget it.

What keeps you coming back every day?

The art, the science, and the social aspects keep me coming back every day. It is an opportunity to implement beautification that is environmentally sustainable and complimentary to wildlife, pollinators, and people. These aspects encompass the promotion of indigenous plant varieties, water conservation, public outreach, as well as other variables.

What’s challenging about your work?

Weeds and weather are two of my biggest challenges. During the growing season, weeds are trying to outcompete selected landscape plants for space, sunlight, water, and nutrients. We pull them by hand and add a mulch layer each year to buffer the soil. It’s hard work.

The weather changes daily, so we are always having to readjust our maintenance schedules to get the best possible outcomes. Timing is everything. I coordinate snow removal in the winter, also, and it’s important to be proactive and reactive at the same time which can be challenging.

Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

I’m awestruck by the prospective of another person’s interpretation and knowledge of the landscape. The public often sees it as very welcoming, and so do I. I like that. It can be very therapeutic.

Who is one of your mentors?

My personal mentor is my Mom. She grew up the daughter of a Missouri sharecropper and only one of eleven siblings to graduate from high school. She has set an example of how to overcome adversity through resiliency, determination, and resolve by improving her life and ours. My sisters and I are first-generation college graduates who struggled with a reading disability most of our early lives. Mom did her best to recruit tutors, enroll us in special reading programs, and even, introduce us to the local library, where we found it accessible and open to our needs. Our reading eventually improved, but we, too, had to persevere. I give her credit, still today, for her courage and fortitude to push us forward.

What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

I’ve been engaged this week by, Gold Dust Woman: A Biography of Stevie Nicks, 2017, the audio book about an American girl from the southwest who somewhat, single-handedly, took a fledging British blues band, Fleetwood Mac, to the pinnacle of rock music. Her poetic lyrics, vocal sound, and style of a free spirit, a special force, that only she can bring to the stage.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I’m married to my wife, Tina. We enjoy traveling and kayaking, along with our dog, Colt.

 

Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at smawhiney@missouristate.edu.  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!

 

Letter to the Independence School Board – July 1, 2022

July 1, 2022

Independence School Board President
Eric Knipp
201 North Forest Avenue
Independence, MO 64050

cc: Dr. Dale Herl, Superintendent

Dear Mr. Knipp and Dr. Herl,

As Missouri librarians and members of the Missouri Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee, we would like to express to you our concern over the banning of Cats vs. Robots  Volume 1: This is War from the elementary libraries in your district. We are concerned that decisions made to remove or restrict could cause harm to the trust that children and their families have in the schools they attend, as well as the students’ ability to pursue inquiry and access materials. LGBTQ+ students need access to authentic representations of Queer experience to provide context for growing up in a predominantly “straight” society, just as cis/heterosexual children benefit from perspectives from non-binary characters that help them empathize with and understand the broader scope of human experience. We ask you to consider why someone would want to restrict access to these perspectives, particularly as our social context becomes increasingly global and interconnected, and individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ participate in an increasingly open and integrated way in our society. We ask you to consider if restricting or removing these works truly serves all the students in your district.

In reference to your email to the district, any type of “rating system” on materials is censoring. Any type of labeling like a warning label is censoring. If you remove a book aimed for 8 to 12 year old children, grades 3 to 7th grades (Cats vs. Robots) from the elementary libraries and place them only in middle and high school libraries, that is censoring the material.

Your Policy 6241 states:

It is therefore the policy of the Board to require that books and other instructional materials shall be chosen for values of educational interest and the enlightenment of all students in the community. Instructional materials shall not be excluded on the basis of the writer’s racial, nationalistic, political, or religious views. Every effort will be made to provide materials that present all points of view concerning international, national and local problems and issues of our times. Books, or other instructional or media materials of sound factual authority, shall not be prescribed, nor removed from library shelves or classrooms on the basis of partisan or doctrinal approval or disapproval.

You have removed the book in concern because of partisan and doctrinal approval. This includes stated reasons such as:

  • “not age appropriate”
  • “A very specific message regarding this topic, which is complicated and can be life-alternating”
  • “It seemed like the author had an ‘agenda’…he agreed that this material was questionable”
  • “gender is not mostly made up”

This removal does not present the point “of view concerning international, national and local problems and issues of our times”. Board Member Fears stated that the ISD district has non-binary identified students, the earliest being in 2nd grade.

Please find attached the MLA’s recent statement on intellectual freedom. In it, we outline the necessity of protecting the opportunities for access to diverse perspectives of which our students avail themselves to be well-rounded citizens and empathetic participants in contemporary society. As with other challenges in the state, we ask you to consider the irreparable harm that undermining intellectual freedom causes to students and their trust in public institutions that come between them and attempts to understand their world. We have also attached a glossary to LBGTQ+ terms that explains that non-binary is a gender identity, not a sexual orientation.

We support those teachers, librarians, and employees working toward maintaining and promoting inclusive library collections, and those who cultivate spaces for free inquiry and curiosity to flourish in schools. We support parents working to promote access to materials in your district, and applaud their efforts to support their kids during this fraught time. We lament the amount of abuse, stress, and other negative consequences students and hardworking teachers and librarians suffer as these regrettable censorship campaigns continue. Please support your students by reconsidering your recent decision to remove Cats vs Robots from elementary libraries. Please support intellectual freedom and put this item back on the shelf.

Signed,

Joe Kohlburn
MLA-Intellectual Freedom Committee 2022 Chair

Colleen Norman
MLA-Intellectual Freedom Committee 2023 Chair-elect

Tiffany Mautino
MLA-Intellectual Freedom Committee Past Chair (2021)

Casey Phillips
MLA-IFC Member/ Social Media and Communications

Ying Li
MLA-IFC Member

Kris Dyer
MLA-IFC Member/ Legislative Liaison

Kimberly Moeller
MLA-IFC-Board Liaison

Otter Bowman
Missouri Library Association President-Elect

Attachments:

MLA Statement on Recent Challenges – http://molib.org/mla-statement-on-intellectual-freedom/

LGBTQ+ Glossary of Terms – https://www.hrc.org/resources/glossary-of-terms

Letter to the Nixa School Board – June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022

Nixa School Board President
Linda Daugherty
301 South Main Street
Nixa, MO 65714

cc: Dr. Gearl Loden, Superintendent

Dear Ms. Daugherty and Dr. Loden,

As Missouri librarians and members of the Missouri Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee, we would like to express to you our concern over the number of challenges being made to books in your district. We understand that a nationally-connected special interest group representing a vocal minority in your district recently presented to you a list of 17 books for potential removal from your collections. It is also our understanding that the majority of those books were retained, and for this we would like to support your judgment. That said, we are concerned that other decisions made about removal or restriction could cause harm to the trust that youth have in the schools they attend, as well as youths’ ability to pursue inquiry and access materials.  The books that were marked for removal, Fun Home, and All Boys Aren’t Blue, are both memoirs by prominent and celebrated Queer artists and authors. Homegoing, which it is our understanding is subject to restricted access, is a work by a Ghanian-American author that touches on complex themes about race, history, colonization and slavery. We trust that as educated people, you can see the common thread here: Celebrated authors from historically marginalized communities are being challenged for political purposes that have nothing to do with protecting youth. We ask you to consider why someone would want to restrict access to these perspectives, particularly as our social context becomes increasingly global and interconnected. We ask you to consider if restricting or removing these works truly serves youth in your district. We would further note that students in the district have already voiced their support for the challenged materials, which should be of equal or greater consequence to these considerations than the complaints of specific groups of parents.

As you know, challenges such as these are part of a national campaign to undermine civil rights and the social progress of LGBTQ and BIPOC populations, and to block access to the perspectives of historically marginalized people by young readers who may share those identities, or who seek to build greater understanding of experiences different from their own. Please find attached the MLA’s recent statement on intellectual freedom. In it, we outline the necessity of protecting the opportunities for access to diverse perspectives of which our youth avail themselves to be well-rounded citizens and empathetic participants in contemporary society. As with other challenges in the state, we ask you to consider the irreparable harm that undermining intellectual freedom causes to youth and their trust in public institutions that come between them and attempts to understand their world.

These challenges represent ill-founded and disingenuous attempts by anti-democratic organizations to curtail young people’s access to diverse perspectives and experiences. These incredibly damaging political actions are obfuscated by concerns about “protecting children”. Removing Fun Home and All Boys Aren’t Blue does not, certainly, protect LGBTQ+ youth, who need access to authentic representations of Queer experience to provide context for growing up in a predominantly “straight” society, just as cis/heterosexual children benefit from perspectives like Bechdel’s or Johnson’s that help them empathize with and understand the broader scope of human experience. Putting Homegoing behind the desk and requiring permission to access it does not help children interested in learning about African history or gaining access to authors writing that directly confronts the ills of slavery and racism on the world stage. In fact, these infringements on the intellectual freedom of youth in your schools cause only harm, and we would assert, do so as part of an agenda that is antithetical to the purpose of public education itself.

We request that you consider a moratorium on removing or restricting access to works from your collection, particularly doing so as a result of petitions by individuals or local groups who are known to be associated with national anti-intellectual-freedom action groups. Groups such as these are attempting to undermine the expertise of educators, the agency of students, and the good faith of parents across the state of Missouri and the nation. The goal of these groups has nothing to do with the well-being of parents and students in your district and is instead part of an unfortunate “culture war” that continues to drag public institutions into protracted battles that waste public resources and undermine the general public good.  We support those teachers, librarians, and employees working toward maintaining and promoting inclusive library collections, and those who cultivate spaces for free inquiry and curiosity to flourish in schools. We support parents working to promote access to materials in your district and applaud their efforts to support their kids during this fraught time. We lament the amount of abuse, stress, and other negative consequences students and hardworking teachers and librarians suffer as these regrettable censorship campaigns continue. Please support your students by reconsidering your recent decisions to remove Fun Home and All Boys Aren’t Blue, and to restrict access to Homegoing.  Please support intellectual freedom and put these items back on the shelf.

Signed,

Joe Kohlburn

MLA-Intellectual Freedom Committee 2022 Chair

Colleen Norman

MLA-Intellectual Freedom Committee 2023 Chair-elect

Tiffany Mautino

MLA-Intellectual Freedom Committee Past Chair (2021)

Casey Phillips

MLA-IFC Member/ Social Media and Communications

Ying Li

MLA-IFC Member

Kris Dyer

MLA-IFC Member/ Legislative Liaison

Kimberly Moeller

MLA-IFC-Board Liaison

Otter Bowman

Missouri Library Association President-Elect

 

Attachments:

MLA Statement on Recent Challenges- http://molib.org/mla-statement-on-intellectual-freedom/

 

 

MLA Featured Library Employee — Mindy Schmidt

Mindy Schmidt, St. Charles City County Library

Meet our newest Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Mindy Schmidt!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

Mindy Schmidt, St. Charles City County Library, Youth Paraprofessional; specializing in Teen and Tween services

I have worked for the library district for over sixteen years. I started out working nights and weekends at the circulation desk, which allowed me to be home during the day with my daughters.

I became a youth paraprofessional around six years ago and now work at the information desk assisting patrons.  I also plan programs for teens and tweens, maintain the teen area and YA collection at our branch and work with other teen staff within the district on a variety of committees and projects.

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

Libraries have always been a magical place for me, to be able to take armloads of books home for free amazed me as a child.  I have always been a reader, using books as my escape, and libraries and bookstores as a refuge.  When I was younger I had considered becoming a librarian, however life happened and a degree didn’t.  Now, as an adult and a library employee, I truly understand what all the library can offer besides books.

What keeps you coming back every day?

The rewards and challenges of working with youth, working with my fellow employees and the love I have for our smaller general purpose branch, where we are able to work on a little bit of everything.

What’s challenging about your work?

Before Covid, balancing outreach, projects, in-branch programming and desk duties was quite a challenge.  Now, since we have been easing back into everything, it has been great to be able to rethink how I want to structure my time.

Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about something?

I love the relationships that form with the teens and tweens that come in regularly to the branch and attend programs, that is one of the best parts of my job.

I have become very passionate about making the library a welcoming place for all youth, not just the stereotypical bookworm.  We have had the wonderful opportunity at the McClay Branch to serve a diverse group of teens that forced us to grow as individuals and expand our abilities as library staff.

Before covid we had a fairly large group of teens that walked from the high school every day after school.  They seemed to be a pretty intimidating group before we got to know them.  Once we invested the time and effort to interact and actively engage with them everyday, we could appreciate that they enjoyed the time and attention we gave them, they are still some of my very favorite teens.

Who is one of your mentors?

Personally, my four daughters; they are bold, passionate, and pursue opportunities that seem out of reach.

Professionally, I have worked with many people who have inspired me and I appreciate them all.  Johnathon Shoff, was one of the first people that I worked with when I started in YA, I try to model his laidback style and ease when working with teens.  I admire his work ethic, sound advice, and his willingness to share ideas.

What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

I read a lot of YA, Mindy McGinnis is one of my favorite authors, her writing can be on the dark and gritty side, which I enjoy.  I just finished “The Last Laugh”, it is the final book of an intense duology that I had a hard time putting down. Her award winning novel “Heroine” was hands down one of my most enjoyed books that I read this year.

Currently I am watching Bridgerton season 2, as well as, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers, both are equally compelling in completely different ways.

 

Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at smawhiney@missouristate.edu.  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!

MLA Featured Library Employee — Pam Stone

Pam Stone, Holts Summit Public Library

Meet our newest Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Pam Stone!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

Pam Stone, Library Associate- Branch Lead at the Holts Summit Public Library.

I have the opportunity to oversee the day to day operations of the library.  I enjoy working with our awesome staff and our friendly patrons.

The Holts Summit Public Library is the newest branch to join the Daniel Boone Regional Library System.

People love the library so much that they passed the proposition during the pandemic to make it a permanent staple in the community.

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

I love working with people. This library has an open floor plan with a welcoming feel once you step inside.  When I first entered the building, it felt like I was at home and knew this was the place I wanted to be.

I have lived in this area for over 20 years and felt like there was always a need for a library in Holts Summit. The bookmobile stop we had before the branch was opened was very popular.

What keeps you coming back every day?

 Our patrons. When I first started, our Associate Director said to me that libraries build communities.  I try to remember that every day when I go to work.  At the end of the day, it is about making a difference.  I love being able to connect with our patrons and share the resources that we have.  There is no greater feeling than signing someone up for a new library card or helping a child find new, exciting books to read.

What’s challenging about your work?

 The pandemic. It continues to throw us many curve balls.  Like everyone else we continue to rise to the challenge, whether it is switching to virtual programs, creating take and make kits to hand to our patrons, offering curbside services, or increasing access to our digital services.  I feel support every day from the staff at DBRL, from the board and director to the managers and my fantastic coworkers. It really does take a village, and Daniel Boone Regional Library is full of talented individuals who make a difference.  When that is recognized by our fabulous patrons with pictures, smiles, and notes, that’s what keeps us going, even on the tough days.  One of my favorite messages the library has received: “I believe in you, unicorns and the library.”

Has your work made you either curious, or passionate, or awestruck about   something?

The thing that I have been both awestruck and passionate about lately is our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Program.  Since it has launched we have had over 1,500 kiddos participate in the program.

It is great for the staff to receive feedback when a child comes in to claim their prize.  To see the smile on their face and the pride of achievement, is priceless for me.

I hope they will be lifelong readers!

Who is one of your mentors?

I have many mentors professionally that I get to work with on a daily basis.  I am grateful to each one of them to help me be a better version of myself and the role I perform everyday.

On a personal level, it is my mom and my daughter.  My mom has been through bouts of cancer and a week in the ICU from Covid.  She tries to find something good every day and does so with grace.  My daughter is a professional with 2 kids and teaches me how to rise to life’s challenges and still bring sunshine every day.

What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

I just finished “Welcome to Dunder Mifflin” by Brian Baumgartner and Ben Silverman.  If you loved The Office, it is a great back story behind the #1 binge-watched series during the pandemic. It explains why it still resonates with people today even though it ended in 2013.  If you want some humor during this cold winter season, I encourage you to check it out.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Your public library provides you with more resources than you think.  If it has been a while since you have visited the library, please check out your local library.  For everyone who works in a library, thank you for all you do.

2 of my favorite quotes:

“See the good all around you even if you have to squint.”

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

 

Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at smawhiney@missouristate.edu.  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!

MLA Featured Library Employee — Scott Villarreal

Scott Villarreal, Christian County Library

Meet our newest Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Scott Villarreal!

What is your name, your library, and your role at the library?

My name is Scott Villarreal. I am a proud member of the Christian County Library District, which houses four different branches—Ozark, Nixa, Clever, and Sparta.

My role in the district is that of Outreach Manager.

The Outreach mission statement reads:

Outreach librarians strive to provide equitable delivery of library services to all people through the development of programs and practices which make the library available to non-traditional patrons.

Services include bookmobile runs to various locations, our Homebound Program, partnerships with school libraries including student card drives, and attendance at numerous community events throughout Christian County.

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

I was a librarian’s aide in high school and found the experience to be extremely enjoyable. This left me with an inclination towards libraries that would not come to fruition until many years later.

I worked in retail for some fifteen years but found myself wanting more than a job where you made a quick buck off the public. I wanted something where the interactions that I had with people would be more meaningful.

What keeps you coming back every day?

Outreach interactions are special. You really get to know the individuals that you bring materials to on a firsthand basis. The stories they tell by sharing their lives makes an impact on you personally. It can leave you feeling enriched and a little closer to humanity.

I would never have stayed 20 years being involved in library services without the people that trained me and gave me my start. It’s also the best assortment of people that I’ve ever been associated with. There is literally not one person that I dislike in the entire library district. I’m convinced that I have the best coworkers and Admin on the planet. How many people are lucky enough to say that?

What’s challenging about your work?

The most challenging aspect of Outreach is making sure you actually reach the people that need your resources the most. We advertise at the library by putting available Outreach resources on our Facebook and Instagram pages, do events to spread the word on a one on one basis, but the best way to promote what we have to offer is the positive word of mouth from the people already receiving Outreach services.

Who are some of your mentors?

Christian County Library veteran of 58 years, Ruth Davis, was instrumental to the development of my early library career. She taught me to respect my patrons and showed me how a library works.

Geri Godber elevated me to the status of Outreach Manager in 2018 and for that I will be eternally indebted. She was a strong leader and taught me about the importance of listening and management in general.

Nicholas Holladay is my current Supervisor. I’m grateful for his guidance in making me a better Manager on a daily basis. His management style is one of intelligence, grace, humor and compassion. Thank God he’s a patient man.

What book, author, artist, show, or music are you engaging with this week, either personally or professionally? Persuade us in one or two sentences that we should pick this up, too.

Legendary comic book artist/writer George Perez recently told the world that he has inoperable pancreatic cancer and has 6 months to a year to live. Perez was and always will be an integral part of my adolescent years, with his reach extending into my adult life. His expert storytelling magically transported me to the worlds of The New Teen Titans, Wonder Woman, Action Comics, The Fantastic Four, the Avengers and so many more. His work was there for me during my tumultuous youth and he was a great inspiration behind my desire to take Art as my major in college, his work even played a role in comforting me during my personal “coming out story.”

I would encourage anyone that enjoys the comic book medium to check out his spectacular body of work.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

My hobbies include, comic book collecting, music, fantasy, sci-fi, horror and artistic drama movies and of course, reading. I enjoy spending time with my boyfriend Chris, my dear friends and the best mother that I could ever have asked for.

 

Would you like to nominate someone to be our next Featured Library Employee?  Examples could be:

…a new employee you’d like to introduce

…someone with a unique job or on a unique career path

…an employee you find inspirational

…a coworker whose gifts you wish were more widely known

…someone who’s “an institution” full of interesting stories

…a role that has a new focus or is reaching a new audience

…someone you’d like to make more visible to potential employers

Submit name(s) and contact information, along with place of employment, to Shannon Mawhiney at smawhiney@missouristate.edu.  We’ll do all the work of contacting; we just need you to connect us!