June 18, 2018

Jenny Ryan | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Educators

Jenny Ryan


YA Services Librarian, Saskatoon Public Library, Sask.


MLIS, University of Alberta, 2005


@jennysryan on Twitter; @saskatcheyawn (Instagram)

Photo by Douglas Gritzmacher


Super Representation

In Saskatoon, First Nations people make up nine percent of the population, and Jenny Ryan wanted to find ways to serve those communities. So when she came across the story of a new DC superhero, Equinox—a young, female Cree—she got excited. “I had been trying to find representation of indigenous teens to add to the collection, and I wanted more female representation, too,” she says.

Ryan organized an event at the Saskatoon Public Library (SPL) around the comic’s publication, incorporating performances by indigenous drummers and youth dancers, as well as a Skype Q&A with the comic’s creator, Jeff Lemire. She contacted a cultural advisor in a local school to ensure that interactions with tribal Elders were respectful and appropriate. There was one major benefit of all this learning, says Ryan. “The young people at the event saw indigenous and nonindigenous adults working together to honor traditional practices.”

Since then, Ryan has reached out to indigenous artists to run storytelling, songwriting, and stand-up comedy programs for teens. “Many of the teens in those programs have been indigenous, but not always, and that’s valuable, [as well],” she says.

She has also hosted screenings of a local documentary, A Chance To Speak, in which individuals living in poverty discuss their experiences with homelessness, gang violence, and sexual exploitation of children. The event was so successful that it was duplicated in other SPL locations and schools.

Next on deck? Perhaps a pen pal book club among kids at different types of schools. “I like the idea of finding commonalities between communities,” says Ryan, “even if it’s just, ‘Man, I can’t wait for the next issue of The Runaways.’”

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

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In this two-week online course, you’ll create a maker program that aligns with your budget and community needs, with personal coaching from maker experts—from libraries and beyond—May 23 & June 6, 2018.


  1. Keith Bastian says:

    She is one of the reasons I love going to my local public libraries! Shine on Jenny!

  2. Emily Holland says:

    Jenny is an inspiration! A well-deserved accolade for terrific programming. Congrats, Jenny!

    • Jenny Ryan says:

      Emily, you’re doing such good work too. Can’t wait to see you profiled here one day!

  3. Valerie Viccars says:

    So happy to see Jenny recognized for the great work she does with youth in her community. I am proud of my dear friend and fellow alum!

  4. Barb Janicek says:

    Jenny was a tremendous support and role model for me in my first year of being a Librarian. I’m thrilled to see her efforts so widely recognized. Well done! (And, great choice, LJ)

    • Jenny Ryan says:

      I loved working with you! And I love hearing about all the cool stuff you’re getting up to in Kitchener. You are definitely an inspiration to me. xoxo

  5. Jenny continues a long standing tradition of quality YA Services at Saskatoon Public Library. It is fantastic to see the continued support for YA service in the city. The leadership team as well as the Board must be thrilled that their support has translated into this recognition for the professionals they bring on board to get the job done. Bravo Jenny. Bravo Saskatoon.

    • Jenny Ryan says:

      I never intended to be a YA librarian but it’s turned out to been a fun adventure. Thank you for the kind words!

  6. Jenny is a shining star and it’s so great to see her being recognized! She’s always been an innovator and a change agent with a strong commitment to meeting the needs of the community.

    • Jenny Ryan says:

      Thank you Ann! You’ve been a big part of my accomplishments, too. So happy to have you on this professional adventure with me.

  7. Donna Wells says:

    I worked with Jenny for a number of years and was impressed by her seemingly endless supply of ideas for making/facilitating connections within the community. She is well deserving of this recognition!

    • Jenny Ryan says:

      Thank you so much, Donna! Your leadership taught me so much about working with the community.

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