April 20, 2018

Susan Conlon & Allison Santos | Movers & Shakers 2009 – Advocates

Susan Conlon & Allison Santos, Princeton Public Library, NJJust Say Yes

They started at Princeton Public Library (PPL) within two years of each other, and their impact on children’s and teen services has been nothing short of astonishing. When Susan Conlon began her current position as teen services librarian at PPL in 2002, teen/YA programming was scarce. Having learned from a previous career in sales that saying yes to new ideas could foster exciting new opportunities, she made it a habit in her new job to say “yes.”

When one teen asked her how he could get onto the library’s Board of Trustees, for example, Conlon successfully petitioned to add nonvoting teen members to the board; at the urging of the new Teen Advisory Board she’d helped create and now supervises, she then instituted teen sleepovers, or “wakeovers.” Similarly, when another teen asked her how the library could spread awareness of environmental issues, she called on community volunteers to help create the annual Princeton Environmental Film Festival.

Santos is no stranger to festivals either, having coordinated the Princeton Children’s Book Festival since 2006, now a signature event for the library. On the day of the festival, PPL youth services librarian Martha Perry says Santos “miraculously coordinates about 50 children’s authors and illustrators, numerous library staff members and teen volunteers, entertainers, a book sale,” and some 2000 attendees.

It’s just one of the ideas Santos has turned into fully fleshed realities. After being trained in the Every Child Ready To Read program, Santos created the popular “Wee Reads” summer reading program in 2006 for preschoolers and their parents. That program incorporates 50 preliteracy activities for youngsters. Thanks to Santos’s presentation on it at the national Collaborative Summer Library Program committee, Wee Reads will be part of libraries’ summer programs in 40 states in 2009. The two have a mutual admiration society of sorts. Conlon is awed by Santos’s ability to handle these projects while simultaneously training and scheduling 100 teen volunteers, maintaining PPL’s children’s web site, completing her MLIS, and developing a new project: incorporating science and math into children’s programming.

Santos admires Conlon’s “uncanny knack for turning the smallest ideas into something amazing.”

Perhaps Princeton High School sophomore Ricardo Broadway summed up their contributions best in a recent New York Times article about the library. He called Conlon and her coworkers simply “mad cool.”



POSITION Teen Services Librarian, Princeton Public Library, NJ

DEGREE MLS, Rutgers University, 2001

KNOWN TO burst spontaneously into song


POSITION Youth Services Library Assistant, Princeton Public Library, NJ

DEGREE MLIS, Rutgers, 2008

WEB SITES Children’s web site & Princeton Children’s Book Festival, www.princeton.lib.nj.us

KEEPING BUSY Secretary, Board of Directors, Collaborative Summer Library Program