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!

MLA Featured Library Employee — Mary Kate Gliedt

Mary Kate Gliedt, St. Louis Public Library Manager of Genealogy

Meet this issue’s Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Mary Kate Gliedt!

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

My name is Mary Kate Gliedt, and I’m the Manager of Genealogy at the St. Louis Public Library.

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

Initially, COVID! I went to graduate school in New York, where I lived for nearly ten years before I came home to St. Louis to wait out a “two week quarantine” that turned into a permanent move and career change! Prior to working for the library, I worked as a senior educator at the Tenement Museum in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, sharing stories of the immigrant communities that made their homes in the neighborhood. Working in the Genealogy department at SLPL is a continuation of the work that I’ve been passionate about for years.

What keeps you coming back every day?

Sometimes, sheer stubbornness…but more frequently, the chances to solve the mysteries our customers bring, and to explore the different ways in which people are connected, keep me coming back.

What’s challenging about your work?

My position is brand new, so finding my place and my role in a long-standing institution can be tricky, and taking the department in new directions is always a scary leap. Thankfully, those risks have been well worth it for the library and for our customers. We have also been living with COVID for my entire tenure at the St. Louis Public Library, and things like not seeing my coworkers’ faces because of our masks, or meeting many of my colleagues on Google Meet, have been particularly challenging as a new hire.

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

I’ve been working in the immigration and migration history field for years now, and one thing I’m always struck by is how interesting the stories of normal people are. History chooses to uplift certain stories over others, but the stories of presidents and other wealthy, white, cisgender men aren’t the only ones worth telling! In the world of genealogy, most of us aren’t related to George Washington, but we are related to people who worked a job, raised a family, experienced tragedy, and lived their lives in ways that feel almost impossible to us today. I find those stories of normal life much more compelling, and that’s a reason I’m drawn to genealogy – it gives everyone a chance to be placed in the historic narrative.

Who is one of your mentors?

I’ve been incredibly lucky throughout my career to work with talented, smart, engaged women who demonstrate exactly what you can accomplish with enough passion and grit to get the job done. From Nancy Wormington at my first internship in Kansas City to Angie Miraflor and Amanda Bahr-Evola at my current job, I’ve learned an incredible amount from each one, and become the professional I am thanks to their influences.

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.

Honestly, when the going gets tough, the tough watch Dance Moms. There’s nothing more distracting than a little dance drama when work and pandemic life get to be too much.

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

One of my favorite immigration facts – no names were ever changed at Ellis Island- despite what The Godfather II says! Ship manifest documents were created before immigrants boarded ships in Europe, and Ellis Island officials simply made sure the person they were processing was listed on the ship manifest. Additionally, every Ellis Island official was required to be fluent in three or more languages, so every immigrant was able to complete their processing in a language familiar to them. While it’s certainly possible an Ellis Island official struggled to pronounce a name, or to find it on the manifest, they had no more authority to change a name legally than a Starbucks barista who misspells your name on a pumpkin spice latte.

 

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 — Katie Hopkins

Katie Hopkins, Springfield-Greene County Public Library's Adult Programming Coordinator

Meet our Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Katie Hopkins!

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

Katie Hopkins, Springfield-Greene County Library District, Adult Programming Coordinator.  My job is to oversee and support staff with adult program planning across our district.  I head up our Adult Summer Reading Program, Winter Reading Challenge, and annual One Read events.  I wear many other hats too – I serve on our district’s Inclusion Committee and I recently co-wrote a successful grant to make our programs and buildings more accessible to individuals with sensory processing challenges.  I am also one of the conference coordinators for the MLA 2022 Annual Conference in Springfield.

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

Even though I grew up an avid public library user, library work kind of fell into my lap.  In my early 20s my friend suggested I apply for a part time reference job at the library while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.  I quickly fell in love with the role I was playing in lifelong learning in my own community and 13 years later I’m still at it!

What keeps you coming back every day?

Admittedly, with everything going on in the world this past year and a half, it has been a struggle to come to work every day.  But I consider myself a leader in our district and it is important to me that I keep trying to bring good energy into the workplace because I care about the people I work with.  Programming is a creative outlet for many of our staff and it breaks up the monotony of frontline desk work.  Helping foster staff creativity and energy and reinvigorating their commitment to serving patrons is ultimately what keeps me coming back.

What’s challenging about your work?

Finding a balance between staff ideas, public demand, and administrative concerns is an on-going challenge.  Also, stepping outside of my personal interests and biases to design programming that is relevant to our community is always hard for me.  However, it always pays off when you sense that flow of energy in a program when people are curious and engaged – that moment ultimately drives my work and makes the challenge worth the effort!

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

Wow, this is a tricky one!  I think something about library work in general that continues to leave me awestruck is the argument that libraries are irrelevant – often from someone standing in front of me IN A LIBRARY.  Anyone who works in a library sees on a daily basis the multitude of ways a library brings value to its community. It’s astounding that people who continue to make this argument think that because a library isn’t useful to them in a particular way, it must not be useful to anyone. It demonstrates to me that while we still have a lot of work to do to combat old stereotypes and spread the word about services, we also have lots of potential to continue finding new and interesting ways to serve our communities.

Who is one of your mentors?

One of my mentors is a photography professor I had in college named Alan Brown.  We still stay in touch through social media. His best piece of advice then, and one I still use today, is “kill your darlings” which means that even if I really feel strongly that a program is a great idea, it has to fit in with the bigger picture.  If not, I have to be willing to let it go for the greater good of my own work and that of the library.  There are always a million great program ideas floating around but it is important to filter your selection down to the ones that are feasible to pull off and will resonate with your patrons.  That can be really tricky but good ideas will still be good ideas further down the road.  A good coordinator keeps track of them and knows when the right time is to bring them to fruition.

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 watching “The Movies that Made Us” on Netflix this week.  Besides being a comforting dose of nostalgia, these short documentaries demonstrate that the works of art we hold most near and dear to our hearts are frequently a patchwork combination of teamwork, persistence, frustration, seemingly random choices, and a little divine intervention from the universe.  I think there are a lot of lessons to be gleaned from this.

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

In the 2005 animated movie Robots there was a character whose motto for running his company was “see a need, fill a need”.  This practice is at the core of my work in designing programming.  Sometimes that need is very specific (like the workshops I designed for parents of children with disabilities) or even a little offbeat (like the program we hosted on cults in America) but if you can pinpoint that need and fill it, your library’s role in your community will be so much richer and the network of patrons you reach will be so much wider.  Don’t neglect your adult programming – it is one of the best ways to demonstrate the library’s value to your community!

 

 

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 — Peter Neely

Peter Neely, Columbia College

Meet this issue’s Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Peter Neely!

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

My name is Peter Neely. I work at Columbia College as the Digital Services Librarian.

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

My interest began when I eventually realized at a young age that libraries provided a chance to engage with my community and share new or unfamiliar methods of acquiring information – and that was too appealing to resist.

What keeps you coming back every day?

Mostly the students, so many are passionate and eager to find that perfect article or are seeking to educate themselves outside of the classroom, it’s hard not to admire their diligence!

What’s challenging about your work?

Working with vendors is honestly the most challenging aspect of my job at the moment.

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

My work has made me realize how important communication is in any field. It’s important to be clear and transparent to your patrons!

Who is one of your mentors?

This is a hard one to answer. I was particularly close to my grandfather, he taught me patience and compassion while showing what you create and put into the world is more important than what you take from it.

 

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 — Geri Godber

Geri Godber

Meet our Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Geri Godber!

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

Geri B. Godber; Christian County Library (today is my last day); Executive Director

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

I have a degree in Chemistry, but in my senior year of college I realized I did not like working in the lab. I loved the theory of chemistry, but not the application. I heard about being a Scientific Librarian – doing the literature research for the folks in the lab and that was my goal. However, life took me down the public library road and I have not looked back.

What keeps you coming back every day?

My staff. They are wonderful…plus, knowing we are here to help people.

What’s challenging about your work?

Keeping all the fires stoked, but not allowing anything to boil over! It has been a crazy year with COVID and managing two construction projects. By April, CCL will have four branches in the county! We are very excited to have 4 beautiful libraries for the people of Christian County.

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

I would say helping veterans, seniors, and individuals with mental illness. They need us most.

Who is one of your mentors?

Without a doubt, Jim Schmidt of Springfield-Greene County Library. He is the best.

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.

Well, I am moving to Oregon so my time this past month has been quite engaged with watching/ listening to old seasons of The Great British Bake Off or Ink Masters while I sort through and pack all of my belongings. I have a soft spot for the United Kingdom, baking, and tattoos.

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

I have accepted a position in Oregon as the Library Director for Tillamook County Library System. My time at CCL has been great with the support of past and present employees, the Board of Trustees, and the support of the folks of Christian County. However, I was widowed a few years ago and it is time for a fresh start. I am from Missouri so it will always be home, but I am looking forward to some new stars in the sky and living on the coast. Thank you to my MLA colleagues, my staff, and Trustees. It has been a great time in MO, but onward I must go!

 

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 Employees — Mid-Continent Public Library’s HR Team

Mid-Continent Public Library HR Team

Meet our Featured Library Employees for the Missouri Library Association, the Mid-Continent Public Library’s HR Team!

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

Jennifer Ridley, HR Director

Dionne Wheeler, Associate HR Director

Rochelle Farmer, HR Specialist

Courtney Meyer, Employment Specialist

Talishia Robins, Leave and Accommodation Specialist

Bonnie Witt, Wellness Coordinator

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

Bonnie – It’s a funny story how I started working for the library. A friend called me out of the blue and said that she knew of a Wellness Coordinator position that would be a great fit. Honestly, I wasn’t even looking for a job at the time. Turns out that she had been offered the position and turned it down to take a school nurse job. She recommended me and I was hired. So, I guess I was the 2nd choice, but I think I landed right where I was supposed to. That was nearly nine years ago. I am still amazed by the people I work with, both closely and at branches via email (now it’s all via Teams and email). There’s a level of caring here that I’ve not seen at other places. At the end of the day, I really like the people I work with!

Jennifer – My siblings and I like to joke that libraries are our “family business.”  My brother is a public librarian and my sister has been a public and school librarian.  I started at MCPL in Interlibrary Loan in 2003 and an opportunity came up the following year to use my HR experience at the library.  I couldn’t pass it up even though I had no idea where it would lead.

What keeps you coming back every day?

Talishia – Firstly, I work with an amazing team of HR professionals who are some of the most dedicated, committed, and knowledgeable people I have ever worked with. It is extremely refreshing to work with people who have similar work missions and drive and who deeply care to do the right thing for our staff. Though we have designated specialties and different personalities, we truly work as a cohesive unit.  Secondly, working for an organization that genuinely supports its staff and knowing the Senior Leadership Team actively exhibits that effort daily…it starts from the top, down. I am grateful to have found this organization and to be able to contribute a small part to that process.

Courtney – Organizations can’t run and thrive without the people that get up and come to work each day. So, having a chance to change these people’s life by offering them a job or knowing the feeling they must have when they find out they were just promoted is what keeps me coming back each day. Knowing that I have the chance, through our people to make MCPL the best library system in North America is a great feeling!

What’s challenging about your work?

Dionne – One of the biggest challenges we have in our department is balancing all the things we “want” to do with those things we “must” do. We talk about capacity a lot amongst our team, and we have so many great ideas, but carving out the time to plan and execute our ideas is a challenge.

Rochelle – Each employee’s path at MCPL is different, and we want each experience to be a positive one. Whether it’s making sure a new employee receives great training and feels included, communicating to a mid-career employee additional benefits they may not have needed previously, or helping a long-tenured employee move through the steps of retirement, any given day can present unique challenges. Being prepared for this requires staying on top of changing guidance and guidelines to represent and protect the interests of MCPL employees.

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

Dionne –  I am awestruck by how much the people I work with who are purpose- driven. It gives me great satisfaction to work around people whose values aren’t tied to money and material things. I think it has made me a better person.

Courtney – Working in HR for larger organizations has made me more passionate about streamlining communication and engagement of employees. When you have a diverse workforce, you must diversify your communication and engagement styles to meet individual needs, which can prove challenging. At the library we have multiple generations and people from all backgrounds working alongside each other, we also have people working multiple shifts throughout the day and different levels of the organization getting the same message. In HR a lot of our messages need to get to each person in our organization, and we have to ensure everyone understands. So, finding and creating new innovative ways to communicate and keep our employees engaged in their work is something I am very passionate about.

Who is one of your mentors?

Dionne – I know this sounds corny, but my mother has been my greatest mentor my entire life. The best parts of me come from my mom.

Jennifer – Don Bridgforth, our retired HR Director, invited me to have a seat at the table at every opportunity and let me soak up everything I could.  He always treated me like a collaborator rather than a subordinate.  And, we always found a way to laugh even when things were bleak.  I think about how valuable that camaraderie was when I am leading this team.

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.

Bonnie – I’ve been listening to Christmas music on the radio, even with all the advertisement interruptions. Growing up, my Mother had all of the Firestone Christmas record albums and she played them all season long. These were the classic songs by Julie Andrews, Barbara Streisand, Andy Williams, and others. So every few songs, I hear one of those classics and I’m happily transported back to a magical holiday time in my life. Those memories come back clearly; the smells, sounds, tastes and the feelings. Music is good for our souls.

Rochelle – Check out Joe Rogan’s podcast. He is a smart and well-read guy who can talk to you about anything from MMA to aliens. He often features guests who are controversial in mainstream media, offering them a platform to dive deep into a variety of topics.

Jennifer – 2020 was redeemed by the triumphant return of Allie Brosh with “Solutions and Other Problems” which I recommend to anyone with mental illness who also embraces silliness to carve a way through the struggle.  Also, I just finished watching “Fleabag” and “Killing Eve.”  I became an instant fan of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s cleverness and dark humor.

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

Dionne – I tell people all the time that I love my job, and I mean it. It is easy for me to show up every day, and not everyone can say that.

Jennifer – We hear every day that 2020 has been a rough year for all of us, and that includes librarians and the people who support them.   I am grateful to be on this unbelievable team of pros who have spent every day of this year working on improving the harmony between work and life for all MCPL team members.  It has not been easy for anyone, but we are driven by witnessing the important and innovative work of the MCPL team in the communities we serve.

 

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 — Kat Wright

Kat Wright

Meet our Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Kat Wright!

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

My name is Kat Wright and I am the Assistant Manager at the Smithville Branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library.

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

My love of books and reading spurred me to study English in college. When my children were little, I would bring them to Storytime at the Library. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the connection the library made with the families and the community. Storytime was a lot of fun for everyone with great books, music, and activities for kids to enjoy. I knew it was the place for me!  I was able to find a position working as a Storytime librarian and loved every minute of it!

What keeps you coming back every day?

The wide range of customers we see and the great co-workers I get to work with! Libraries make an impact in so many areas of the community, that keeps the job interesting and fun. It is so rewarding to make connections with individuals and groups and see how those partnerships develop into projects that make an impact in the community. Seeing how each staff member has a niche and connects with various groups and customers is really inspiring to me.

What’s challenging about your work?

I was promoted last year to Assistant Manager and moved to the Smithville Branch from the Parkville Branch. Learning about a new community and a new job can be challenging and fun. I miss working with the little kids and families at storytime but learning new skills for my position has been exciting. Being as flexible as possible and open to change has been important, especially as we have been working through the pandemic.

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

I think my passion for Early Literacy has continued to grow over the years. I have seen the important role that libraries play in providing materials and programs for young children and their families. Libraries can often be a bridge to literacy for families by providing them with a social space to experience books and music. I have had many parents tell me that they don’t have the first idea of how to help their children learn to read.  But after coming to storytime events they begin to get more comfortable with Early Literacy and their confidence inspires them to be great teachers to their children. These experiences inspire me to try and find unique ways to promote other services to the broader community and find ways to reach the people who need our services the most.

Who is one of your mentors?

My current mentor is probably my boss, Stacey Franklin. She has been very supportive of me in my new role, while being honest with me about my strengths and weaknesses. Stacey has helped me to embrace new technologies as well as evaluate every aspect of my job. Her kindness and sense of humor has helped me get through many different situations. We have worked together since last August and I have learned so much from her!

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 am currently reading Barkskins by Annie Proulx. Spanning 300 years, it tells the story of the settlers of New France in 1693 and the treacherous mysteries that occur when French and English trappers live alongside the Iroquois and attempt dominate the land. It’s also a National Geographic miniseries.

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

I am taking my final class this summer to complete my MLIS from the University of Missouri. I am so excited to be finishing this goal and look forward to focusing on my family and career in the coming months!

 

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 — Katherine Glenn

Katherine Glenn

Meet our Featured Library Employee for the Missouri Library Association, Katherine Glenn!

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

My name is Katherine, I am the Training and Professional Development Coordinator for the Mid-America Library Alliance.

What originally got you interested in working at a library?

I can’t remember a time when going to the library hasn’t been part of my routine. I was nervous to apply at my local library; I was worried working there would change how I felt about a place I loved. My feelings did change, but I somehow grew to love the library even more.

What keeps you coming back every day?

I enjoy the adventures I can go on. I travel and get to meet new people while exploring the different library systems MALA serves.

What’s challenging about your work?

I no longer work in a public library; my role is to support the library community. The most challenging part of my job is ensuring I am providing relevant workshops for library staff and professionals.

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

I have always been passionate about libraries and serving my patrons. This position has created a new passion for me and that is supporting library staff and professionals. I want to provide tools that make their jobs easier.

Who is one of your mentors?

I have been fortunate enough to have had several great mentors throughout my library career; one I would like to highlight is my current director Mickey Coalwell. I am thankful for his continued guidance and support as we rebuild MALA’s training and professional development.

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.

One of my favorite things to do is read from the banned book list. Right now I am about to reread Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The reader gets to experience a world where books are banned, and information is limited. This fantastic read will leave you questioning if you would be strong enough to stand up for what you believe in.

 

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!