Library Information Supervisor
Flatbush Branch, Brooklyn Public Library
MLS, Queens College, Flushing, NY, 2009
Skills Training & Employment Project (www.bklynpubliclibrary.org/step); Growing Dollars and Sense (www.bklynpubliclibrary.org/jobs-business/growing-dollars/growing-dollars-and-sense-teens)
Photo ©2014 Michael Pilla
A former youth services librarian who in 2013 was promoted to library information supervisor at the Flatbush Branch of Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), Edwin Maxwell taps into his own background, growing up in the hardscrabble Bronx, and his hands-on work as a librarian to draw at-risk youth to library resources and programs that have practical application in their lives.
Inspired by the Skills Training & Employment Project (STEP) at BPL, where he worked one-on-one with job seekers, Maxwell says his goal is to connect library resources with each individual’s real-life challenges.
That belief plays out in programs such as the Growing Dollars and Sense Teen Virtual Investment Club (of which he was a key architect), whereby teenagers take intensive, six-month training with finance professionals and compete in an online virtual stock game. In the program’s first year, all 30 teens stuck with the program (though it’s hard to get them to commit for such a long time, says Maxwell) and achieved a positive return. The winner had a 29.01 percent return on investment—better than most professional portfolios.
Now the program will expand tenfold. Maxwell points out that the teens who participated “have become some of the library’s biggest advocates and have been eager to testify to funders…about the library.”
“Edwin is dedicated to helping teens increase their media literacy skills and workforce readiness,” says Jennifer Thompson, coordinator of YA services at BPL’s Central Library. “His creative, fun-infused approach to programming involving the latest tech toys makes him a much admired mentor.”
Next Maxwell aims to revitalize the Flatbush Branch’s Caribbean Literary and Cultural Center; create a Sunshine, Seeds and Reads Community Garden; and build a teen space. “My dream job is to create a Life-Transformative Library built around transformative public programs—workforce development, financial literacy, digital literacy, adult learning, early literacy—supported by library resources.”