On Starting My Next Chapter: Adventures in Youth Services

Wow. It’s been a while. Do people even write blogs anymore? I know I’m not the only one who would say It. Has. Been. A. Year. (and a few months). If you follow me on Twitter, you might know that on top of a global pandemic, 2020/21 has personally brought me some heartache, some separation, some loss, and lots of change. The biggest of that change was moving to a new city with my husband and two cats and starting a new library job.

The new job? I’m now a Youth Services Associate at a branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library system in the Kansas City metro area. I get to help manage the young adult collection, create displays, and work with teens, planning and presenting programs and outreach to schools…once schools are in session and restrictions are lifted. It’s a completely different role from anything I’ve done in libraries so far, and I’m excited to see where it takes me.

So, why youth services? Why not reference? Or collection development? Or even management? When I was looking for new positions, I told myself, and a number of interviewers, that I fell in love with librarianship while working the front lines. I missed the variety that working with the public can bring to your day. I missed building relationships with regular patrons. I missed the random questions, the opportunities to chat about and recommend books, and the chance to interact with the different people who visit the library every day.

I also thought about how much fun I had working with the children’s librarian and our teen advisory board on programming when I was a director at the Oskaloosa Public Library. Craft programs, Dungeons & Dragons, chess club, zombie crawls, movie nights, mini conventions, Halloween parties — I loved the creativity and adventure it brought to the job. I was proud that we created an inclusive, safe space for teens in the community where they could geek out and also incidentally learn about the resources available to them at the library.

This isn’t to say, though, that I disliked my last job. I was just ready for something different, ready to not be a manager for a while, and ready to work a public desk again. Our move to a new city provided that opportunity, and now I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings in this new role, some of which I hope to share here. That’s what I’ve missed too — documenting and sharing my experiences, ideas, displays and programs. So keep an eye out here if you’re interested in following along!

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