New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

The Evolving Library and Librarian

By Laura Lintz, Adult Services Librarian, Newark Public Library

Lintz in her Lunch Lady Halloween costume, pictured here with Ulysses Pug, dressed as Lunch Lady’s sidekick Betty.

Libraries in the 21st century are a place of change.  Not only must our services, spaces, and programs evolve to meet the changing needs of patrons, but so must librarians.  This is something that I have learned first-hand.

Until very recently, I was working as the Branch Manager of the Edith M. Fox Branch Library in Arlington, Massachusetts.  The Fox is a small neighborhood library in a family-oriented town and I spent the bulk of my time specializing in children’s services.  I oversaw our children’s programming, performed multiple weekly storytimes, and was known far and wide for my lively renditions of “The Wheels on the Bus.”  I could (and still can) fashion anything out of felt, scotch tape, and googly eyes.  On Halloween, I dressed up like Jarrett Krosoczka’s graphic novel heroine, the Lunch Lady.  I am a compulsive reader of picture books and middle grade fiction.  The ALA Youth Media Award winners were far more important to me than the Superbowl victors.  (And that’s not just because I’m a Bills fan!)

But a few months ago, my husband and I made the decision to relocate to our native land of Upstate New York with our baby daughter, Amelia.  (I didn’t name her after Amelia Bedelia, I promise.)  As I searched for positions in public libraries around Rochester, New York, I noticed a lack of openings in Children’s Services.  I wondered what would be the best use of my skills.  So I talked to my supportive and all-knowing library director, who gave me this golden piece of advice:

The only thing certain in the future of libraries is uncertainty, and as librarians, we must be as ready as we can to meet this uncertainty head-on.  

With this advice, he helped me realize that my skills weren’t limited to children’s services.  In fact, I was doing myself a disservice by thinking that they were.  My creativity, skills, and passion for library programming were just as important in helping adults as they were in the children’s room.  
Libraries have always been more than just books and banks of computers—we are places where individuals of all ages gather to explore, interact, and imagine. The strength of libraries not only lies in the items that we lend, but also the programs that we provide and the roles that we play within our communities.  And in a world that is so rapidly evolving, this is one thing that will not change.  Instead, we can open doors, windows, and other possibilities for innovation in the form of unique lending libraries, maker labs and programs, and services designed to meet the needs of unique communities both on-site and remotely.

And so, I am now the Adult Services Librarian at the Newark Public Library in Newark, NY.  The bulk of my job is dedicated to devising new adult programming to serve our diverse community.  In my month at Newark, I’ve already learned that the public library is a cherished resource that supplies members of the community with computer access and media.  Now I am working to develop a sense of what the community needs and establish programs and services that meet these needs.  I have realized that making the transition from children’s to adult services has only made me more nimble at responding to the needs of library patrons.

But that doesn’t mean I’m leaving my love of Children’s Services behind.  I have joined the NYLA YSS Interest Group.  I practice singing “The Wheels on the Bus” pretty regularly.  And I plan to keep my Lunch Lady Halloween costume at the ready for at least a few more wears.