Welcome to “In the Field”, a new blog series here on the iYouth Blog. I’m Rebecca Z Dunn, a MLIS student here at the University of Washington iSchool, and I will be interviewing successful, innovative youth services professionals from all across the country. So hold onto your hats, and get ready to be inspired by amazing individuals doing amazing things for children and teens in the library-sphere.
Today, our special guest Laura Perenic, Youth Services Librarian from MidPointe Library System!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you work, and what you do there?
I work at the Middletown Branch of the MidPointe Library System. We serve the eastern part of Butler County Ohio. I am a Youth Services Librarian so I work with anyone from birth through high school. I run in house young adult programs and outreach to young adults at the local schools. I also do collection development for all teen materials in our system.
What project or program have you recently completed/are currently working on at work that you’re proud of?
Working with our IT Department we have started offering Minecraft as a monthly program. Ideally the program will travel to the other branches and provide a variety of gaming experience to all our young adult patrons.
When did you realize you wanted to work in libraries? And specifically with youth?
A lot of things led me to be choose librarian as a profession. I was a library aide in junior high school and my mother worked at the local public library. For a long time I had a job at the mall working at a book store. But it wasn’t until after finishing undergrad I got a job driving the bookmobile for the Greene County Public Library that things really clicked for me. I applied and was accepted to Indiana University a year later.
Looking back, what do you wish you’d learned in library school that you could utilize in your work today?
I wish I had made a stronger effort to learn about different technologies. Even things like playing video games can lead to programs for teens and allow me to relate better to my patrons. It would have been great to learn some hands on skills like laminating and using an ellison press. It sounds so minor but libraries want to you to jump right in to your job; often the position has been open a while.
What advice do you have for library school students looking to… Well… Do what you do?!
I would encourage students to think about how they dress for work, looking back I know some of my outfits were questionable at best. Students should start networking now. Follow other librarians and authors online. Learn about current issues and events affecting the job now and down the road.
What one skill do you think is necessary to be a successful working in youth services?
Knowing when to speak is as important as knowing what to say. You can never take back an impolite action like interrupting someone. And you may never earn patron’s or staff member’s trust once you’ve offended them. Being your best as often as possible is necessary because you cannot ask your teens to be quiet and respectful of the library and each other when you are cruel. Trust me I am still learning this myself.
Favorite part of being a youth services librarian?
I love that people don’t realize there is a librarian for teens and young adults. It’s great to help people update their preconceived notion that I do storytimes and read all day.
How can we keep up with what you’re up to?
You can follow me on Twitter @Lperenic. I also do a monthly post with YALSA’s The Hub.
**Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed here are my own and do not represent my employer or anyone else that I’m affiliated with.
Rebecca Zarazan Dunn is a first-year MLIS student at the University of Washington and a Youth Services Library Assistant at the Lawrence Public Library. She blogs regularly about children’s books and adventures in the library, among other things, at Sturdy for Common Things. You can follow her on twitter at @rebeccazdunn.