Reader Services Librarian
Northbrook Public Library, IL
MLIS, Dominican University, River Forest, IL, 2008
Although she is teased by friends for riding her old combination road/mountain bike, White has never had a flat tire.
Photo by Karina Guico
From facilitating a book club in a bar to planning events that pair fundraisers with discussions of library issues, Leah White creates opportunities for libraries to connect with communities and for her peers and colleagues to connect with one another.
“I wanted to create spaces where librarians can get together and talk to each other and be social and professionals,” White says.
This led White and three classmates to cofound the Chicago Deskset, a series of events where information professionals and bibliophiles network while helping charities (based on the Deskset in Brooklyn). More than 100 people attended the first Chicago event, tenfold more than expected, says cofounder Anthony Molaro, associate dean of library and instructional services at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights and a 2011 Mover & Shaker. He credits White with the success and subsequent donation of 350 books to the Cook County Juvenile Justice System.
The importance of reaching out to build relationships with library communities is among the reasons White facilitated Lit Lounge, a book group in an Irish pub. White ran the book group for Skokie and Morton Grove Public libraries in Illinois until October 2011, when she took a job at Northbrook Public Library.
Lit Lounge cemented for White the benefits of library service in nontraditional sites. “It’s good for the library, and it builds long-term library fans,” she says. In her new job at Northbrook, she’s looking for opportunities to offer a similar approach. White wants to take the library into the places where people hang out, including bowling alleys and commuter transit stations.
“Leah has a high level of enthusiasm,” says Molaro. “People really rally around her.”