Alum in Texas Creates Blog to Help Other Teen Librarians
While working on her undergraduate degree, Karen Jensen took a position at The Public Library of Mount Vernon as the young adult librarian. After working there for a few years, she knew she had found her passion and calling in library science.
[Karen_Jensen] Jensen graduated from Mount Vernon Nazarene College with a Bachelor of Arts in youth ministry in 1997, and received her Master of Library and Information Science (M.L.I.S) in 2002 from the School of Library and Information Science at Kent State University.
Then a change in location gave Jensen the impetus to reach out to her fellow teen librarians via the internet. She is currently working as a teen/tween librarian at the Betty Warmack Branch Library in Grand Prairie, Texas.
“Because of my husband's job change, I was forced to quit my library position in Ohio and move to Texas,” Jensen said. “I knew that I didn't want to stop doing the things that I love — being a teen services librarian and dabbling in graphic design. I created my blog, TLT: Teen Librarian’s Toolbox, as a way to share my passion, knowledge and experience with other teen services librarians and help them get tools they could use.”
Jensen creates and shares reader’s advisory posters, teen program outlines, book reviews and thoughts on developing marketing materials and working with non-teen services staff and administrators on her blog.
“I know that many libraries are having budget crunches and staff crunches so I thought that I would put together resources that they could download and use quickly and easily,” she said. “I post daily informational updates on my Twitter and Facebook accounts; it’s news-you-can-use feature. A lot of the information is presented in a way that librarians can quickly and easily share with their teens by hitting the share button on Facebook or retweeting. In theory, I am reaching a lot of teens.”
This year, Jensen was inspired to start a project called The 2012 Project after seeing a lot of negative press about “the demise of libraries.”
[Jensen poster] “The goal of the project is to collect 2,012 pictures of teens using their libraries or reading books in the year 2012,” she said. “With these pictures libraries can make a strong visual statement to teens, administrators and our local and national communities that libraries are in fact still thriving, that we are a vital part of our communities and teens lives. All of these little steps help me build a growing audience, so that I can continue to do what I love and be active in teen librarianship.”
Working with teenagers is something Jensen has always wanted to pursue. She believes that teenage years are important, but difficult, and that literature has the power to inspire and challenge youth.
“As a teenager I noticed that there were a lot of negative stereotypes about teens and that people were pre-judging me based solely on my age,” she said. “I remember walking into a restaurant once with a group of friends and they said they were closed when it was still a half hour before their closing time; they just didn't want to deal with a group of teens and felt that they didn't have to. These experiences made me know that I wanted to work with teens. So when I stumbled into young adult librarianship, it was like a match made in heaven. Teenagers are thoughtful and intelligent and have such tremendous power to make decisions that shape the future, not just theirs but all of ours.”
Jensen encourages any person to find their passion and be true to it. It makes going to work every day so much more enjoyable, and makes you more effective at your position when you are doing what you are passionate about.
“I find it helps having this creative outlet to do what I want on my terms; it makes it easier to go back to work each day and have to work within a system with already established policies and procedures,” she said. “If you are going to work with teens, you have to love teens. Definitely engage in the professional community. It is invigorating to talk and share with people who love what you love and you often get good ideas. Librarians are good at sharing, they’re supportive, and believe in what they do. Libraries change lives by giving their patrons access to information and resources that they may miss or not be able to afford on their own. So when you get worried about the future, remember that it only takes touching one patron once to make a difference in this world.”
--By Nicole Gennarelli