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!