This week we’re introducing Katie Anderson, youth services consultant for Oregon State Library. Take it away, Katie!
Your title, duties, and what an average day might look like for you.
I’m the youth services consultant at the Oregon State Library. My work is focused on the three library youth services best practices identified by the Oregon State Library as a result of a statewide community analysis. Our three best practices are early literacy training, summer reading, and outreach to underserved populations.
I coordinate statewide summer reading activities, follow and share information about statewide early learning and summer learning initiatives that libraries should be aware of, foster the development of partnerships at the state and local level to better meet the needs of underserved youth and families, and administer the only state funds public libraries in Oregon receive. Oregon public libraries may only use state funding on early literacy and summer reading activities.
I also get to work on a lot of fun special projects. Several years ago I facilitated a statewide early literacy training project and last year I got to work with Oregon Public Broadcasting on Celebrating 100 Years of Beverly Cleary.
What attracted you to your current position? Was it an intentional move, a gut feeling, a happy accident, or a matter of convenience?
One of my grad school professors did a lot of unique work throughout his career. I asked him how he got those jobs. Essentially he said networking and saying yes. He developed good relationships with library staff all over the world. Over the years some of them were asked if they knew anyone who could do unique library and information infrastructure work. They would recommend my professor and he almost always said yes, even when he didn’t think was qualified and wasn’t sure what would be required.
This stuck with me so when I was strongly encouraged to apply for my job by a couple people I said yes. I didn’t know what state libraries do, I didn’t know the job “youth services consultant” existed, and I wasn’t sure what any type of consultant actually did. All my jobs, even in high school, were working directly with kids. Working with kids was what I enjoyed most about all my past jobs so I decided I’d stay in this desk job for two years. It’s been ten years! Little did I know this would be the dream job I never even knew to dream about. I love it!
What things give you the most joy in your position?
Helping library staff. When a librarian tells me I made their job easier or some bit of information I gave them helped them get a grant it’s like getting hug from a kid after storytime. I also love showing off the great work Oregon libraries do to state agencies, like the Oregon Department of Education, and statewide organizations, like the Oregon Afterschool Network. Too often these people are surprised by what the learn libraries are doing and how libraries support student success.
What’s most challenging for you?
Two things I thought I’d never have to do as a librarian—TV/radio interviews and complex math. I only get asked to do interviews on TV or radio a couple times a year and I always try to find someone else to do it because I’m terrible at it! Once a year I have to calculate how much state funding each legally established public library is eligible to apply for based on a $1 per child, 20% distributed based on square miles and 80% distributed based on population formula. Lots of Oregon libraries have service areas that don’t follow city or county boundaries so you have to create estimates based on voter registration and call county GIS departments. I’m not good at math (fortunately excel does that for me!), but I am good at logic puzzles which is necessary to figure out boundaries and a few other oddities so it’s a good challenge!
Pretend I’m an MLIS student, eager to figure out how to get your job. What’s the advice that you would give me?
Join your state’s library association and get a leadership position in the youth services division. Identify staff at other libraries you would want to learn from and pick their brains, perhaps even figure out some project to work on together. Subscribe to the ALSC and YALSA listservs and identify some other ways that work for you to follow trends and research in library youth services (like following this blog!). Follow what’s going on in education, early childhood, and afterschool/summer learning in your state—what initiatives is your state’s department of education focused on, what legislation is your afterschool network advocating for, what laws have changed for childcare providers and think about how these things impacting your patrons and the organizations you partner with and what your library can do to help.