I’ll own this: I’ve been pretty emotional since the election in November. I spent my holiday break practicing self-care, including stepping back from social media, cuddling with my dogs Cooper and Dozer, and bingeing on old sitcoms.
The talent at work in libraries should make anyone optimistic for the future—not only of libraries but of the varied communities they serve. As the latest class of LJ Movers & Shakers demonstrates, the field is rippling with energetic, committed, innovative people addressing issues to create ever better service. It’s important that today’s leaders guarantee an institutional dynamic that will keep up-and-coming visionaries like these happy in libraries, allow them to flourish, and enable the best to step forward into larger roles.
As a line on a résumé, the title of library director looks straightforward enough: the highest administrative role a public library has to offer; one that comes with great responsibilities and challenges—but also the opportunity to map a future for the library. In reality, a director’s duties vary widely from one system to another, as do the paths that lead to the role.
Nancy Evans, young adult librarian at New York’s Levittown Public Library, got the idea for her young adult (YA) program Strong Girls School after she shared YA author Maureen Johnson’s post “Why Do We Photoshop People?” with the girls in her writing program. They loved it, and their reaction inspired Evans to develop a program to support and empower girls as they deal with gender issues such as self-esteem.
Chancey Fleet first visited the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library on a trip from Virginia in the 1990s. “I was blown away by the browsable Braille collection,” she says. “I was ten or 11, and I checked out a bunch of choose-your-own-adventure books.” Upon returning to New York as an adult, she adds, “I already had an affinity for the library.”
As an army veteran returning from Iraq in 2007, Sarah LeMire struggled to balance family responsibilities with her pursuit of a master’s degree in English. A few years later, in library school, she found a support network through the campus veterans office. At meetings with the student veterans group, she met people who understood what it was like to leave a war zone and attend college.
In 2016, as the second annual statewide NJ Makers Day neared, the event’s lead founder, Piscataway Public Library (PPL) emerging technologies librarian Doug Baldwin, received ten Maker kits. The good news: the kits had been paid for by a sponsor. The bad news: they arrived so late that Baldwin had to convey them himself to participating sites. “I got in my less-than-reliable car and mapped out a path to deliver all ten kits…in one day,” Baldwin says. “The fates certainly smiled on me as my car did not break down logging those miles.”