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May 28, 2024

The Library Behind-the-Scenes: Youth Services

What do librarians and library workers do all day? It’s not just sitting behind a desk reading a book! Get to know how the public library works behind-the-scenes! This year, we’ll highlight different departments and services the Hamilton East Public Library offers to give you an inside glimpse into how the library serves our community.

Today, Mel B., will walk us through a day in the life of a Youth Services Librarian working with the children, parents, and caregivers in our community.

Q: Tell us about a typical day in the Youth Services department?

Woman in green shirt holding up an open book

Ms. Allison leading a storytime at the park.

A: Our Youth Services team spends a lot of their time and energy planning and producing fun storytimes and other programs and providing support to families, children, caregivers, and educators. The work I do is a little bit more “backstage.” As assistant manager, it’s my job to provide support for the rockstar library professionals who make our department shine, so you might see me working at the reference desk or helping out with a program and greeting patrons, or running around trying to think of a creative solution to the challenges and opportunities that come up when you help lead a department of 25!

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

A: I’ve worked in libraries since I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Library Science 18 years ago, and my career reflects one of the things that I love about my work: the variety! I worked in Adult Services for the first 9 years of my career, before spending a couple of years in collection development and then moving into management. I came to HEPL at the beginning of 2022, in part because I love the Central Indiana and Indianapolis region and mostly because I was utterly beguiled by the opportunity to work in such a dynamic library and keen to take a new step in my career—working with youth and families. Another favorite part of my job is simply just interacting with the children; they say some of the smartest and funniest things! And it’s a privilege to watch them grow up. Another thing I love about my job: it is never ever boring!

Q: What do people not realize about Youth Services?

Two boys holding books sitting in a wagon

Kids showing off their new library books after attending a program.

A: This isn’t something that is particular to Youth Services, but really, something that a lot of the people we serve don’t realize: if you have a Hamilton East Library Card in good standing, you can get a library card at any of the libraries in Hamilton County. It’s called “reciprocal borrowing,” and it’s a great way to see what other libraries in our area have to offer.

Another thing lots of people don’t realize about Youth Services: you don’t have to be quiet! We’re not going to shush you! Babies will cry—that’s how they communicate. Toddlers will laugh loudly—that’s how they express their wonder. Children will yell—that’s how they show their delight upon discovering something. Our department sparks joy and wonder in people of all ages, and sometimes you just have to let that out!

Q: How many people does your department interact with on a typical day?

Man in pink shirt and guitar in front of crowd of children

Mr. Dan’s concerts always draw a crowd to the library!

A: Since no two days are the same, it’s hard to say what a typical day is! Let’s put it like this: anyone who says “Well, no one uses the library anymore, anyway!” clearly hasn’t been to Miss Evie’s Thursday morning storytimes, which regularly draw in close to 100 people. Nor have they seen our reference statistics—in April alone, we answered almost 1800 reference questions. And Summer Reading Program, which we’ve been planning for the last 6 months and which starts on June 1, already has 2200 people signed up for it. Join us for the Kickoff! I think it’s safe to say that, department-wide, we interact with scores–if not hundreds–daily, who come through our doors wanting to be informed, entertained, helped, and educated.

Q: What goes into running the Youth Services department

A: A lot of thought. Youth Services Leadership (Director Chaise, Coordinators Allison and Erin, and myself, the assistant manager) are always trying to run the present department efficiently and compassionately, while also planning for the future department and library. And that requires us to ponder a lot of questions: is what we are doing working? What can we improve or change? What do we need to do more of? Do we have the resources to do more? What do we want our department, our services, our community to look like in 1 year or 5 years? How can we best serve the community we love? And what impact will our decisions have? And then after all that thinking, there’s the execution—planning, putting the pieces into place, evaluating, tweaking, learning. Finally, a key part to running our department is never permitting ourselves to fall into complacency, always watching the future, and planning out how to evolve and meet our community’s needs.

Q: Where can people learn more about what’s going on in Youth Services?

Adults dressed in halloween costumed in front of black event tent

Our fun library staff connecting with kids at Boo Bash!

A: There are a lot of different ways to find out about what’s happening! I think the most fun way is just to stop by our Youth Services desk at Noblesville or Fishers and say hello and get to know us. We love to talk about the things that we have planned and can show you our gorgeous Discover Guides, which highlight some of our favorite programs. If you don’t want to leave the house, our website has all the information you could hope for: you can check out our calendar of events or our Kids Page, which offers all sorts of valuable information. And don’t forget: HEPL is often out and about in the community, doing outreach at Farmers Markets, food pantries, festivals, and other events, and the folks there can tell you all about what’s going on.

Thank you, Mel! Stay tuned to the HEPL blog each month to learn more about the library behind-the-scenes!