February 16, 2018

Jennifer Hamilton | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Community Builders

Jennifer Hamilton


Community Librarian, Terrebonne Parish Library, Houma, LA

MLIS, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 2009

facebook.com/FutureLeadersofAmericasGulf, communitylibrarian.com, mytpl.org


Global Thinker

Just three weeks before the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (or BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Jennifer Hamilton had transitioned out of a 20-year career in nonprofit administration to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a librarian. Her first job was as reference librarian at the Terrebonne Parish Library (TPL) in the bayou country west of New Orleans. When a group of high school students showed up at the library, asking to use a library conference room, Hamilton learned that the teens were researching the impacts of the oil spill on the local environment and economy and organizing ways to help.

The new librarian ended up adopting the group, Future Leaders of America’s Gulf (FLAG), as a library program, giving them weekly access to meeting spaces, and sharing her research skills. In the five years since, FLAG has grown into an award-winning media program serving over 100 teens and producing biweekly live programs broadcast by HTV10, the local FOX affiliate.

In 2013, Hamilton shifted from reference to the newly created position of community librarian. A self-described “library evangelist,” Hamilton believes public libraries are critical connection points. With her nonprofit background, she sees the library as just one part of a system of services and works to bring various organizations together. She has reached out to homeschoolers and built bridges between public and school libraries. And she brings scientists, engineers, and health professionals to the library to work with local students on STEM projects.

“With the future of public libraries going beyond the library’s walls,” says TPL director Mary Cosper LeBoeuf, “[Jennifer] thinks globally but acts locally.”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.