Teen Services Supervisor, Arlington Heights Memorial Library, IL
MLIS, Dominican University, 2012
Photo by Patrick Heagney
It didn’t take Trixie Dantis long to make her mark on teen librarianship. Just four years after she joined the Arlington Heights Memorial Library (AHML), Dantis won the 2016 Crosman Memorial Award, given annually by the Illinois Library Association to a library professional who has accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time.
Her rise at the library was swift: in January 2012 she started as a part-time programs assistant, and by February 2016 she was in her current position as teen services supervisor.
Dantis was tasked with creating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programming. Interested in the Maker movement, she was a natural fit. One of her first initiatives: Print Your Head, in which teens were 3-D scanned and walked away with a small 3-D-printed plastic bust of themselves. The program caught the attention of a teacher at a local middle school, who asked the library to collaborate on 3-D-RD, a nine-week course focused on 3-D printing, research, and design.
Library and school staff developed the curriculum together, which required students to complete projects in the Hub, the library’s teen space, using its resources—e.g., robots, a virtual reality headset, and a sewing machine. The class was so popular, enrollment shot up 40 percent the second year, so the library added another class section.
Dantis is also deeply involved in the Newcomer Center, which provides academic instruction to local high school students new to the United States. Dantis is the first U.S.-born person in her family, so she can relate to the students. “English was not the primary language spoken in the home I grew up in. I was the kid translating for my mother at the grocery store or restaurant,” she says. “I think this really drives my passion to serve ESL [English as a Second Language] and ELL [English-language learner] users of the library.”
“Trixie worked with staff to create a rotating library,” says nominator Jason Kuhl, executive director of AHML. “Library staff members find out the students’ interests and then personally select native-language books and popular titles from our collection to match those interests.”
Dantis’s other projects include a community partnership to combat teen obesity and the Sprout Squad, a group of teens who grow and maintain their own produce at a local park.
What’s the common thread? “[M]y main goal is to connect teens to resources they need [both] for education and enjoyment,” Dantis says.