More teens are engaging in after-school activities and programs at The Dalles-Wasco County Library as the teen-focused redesign of the upstairs mezzanine nears completion and a unique team of two librarians work to create new programs and opportunities.
“They call us the ‘dynamic duo,’” laughed Jeannie Glaspy, who now shares the teen librarian position with Zulema Martinez.
Glaspy said she and Martinez, who each work 20 hours of a full-time teen librarian position, are a great fit. “I’m into the artistic side of things: she is more of a librarian,” Glaspy explained.
Both love working with teens.
Glaspy attended Colonel Wright Elementary in The Dalles through sixth grade, when her family moved to Tygh Valley. She graduated from South Wasco High School in Maupin and attended Columbia Gorge Community College in The Dalles and Oregon State University in Corvallis, studying science, biology and microbiology.
After graduation she worked at a number of science labs before realizing that wasn’t the right direction for her. “I decided I was more creative than analytical,” she explained.
When she interviewed for the teen librarian job at the library, she was asked to bring a toy—and brought in her “Hellboy” hand, part of her “costume play.”
“I like cosplay (a blend of the words costume and play); it combines so many arts and skills,” she explained.
Acting, sewing, making props like Hellboy’s “hand of doom,” all are part of the cosplay world, she said, and a part of the teen librarian world as well. “Drawing, sculpting, electronics, I’ve used all those skills here.”
Her background in science and technology has also been a plus, as the library continues to develop and expand its “maker” spaces with 3D printers, laser cutters, drawing monitors, editing software and more.
Glaspy splits her full-time job between the teen program and the front desk.
“I think tech and books work very well together,” Glaspy said. “We’re getting new books in all the time.”
Trading off with Glaspy is co-librarian Zulema Martinez.
Martinez has been working at libraries for over 10 years. Prior to coming to The Dalles last year, she was the teen librarian at the Hermiston library. “My mom worked in the library, so I grew up in the library,” she said.
Library work wasn’t initially what she thought she would do—she attended a culinary school and wanted to be a chef—but it was always in the background, she explained.
She started as a substitute librarian and after four years moved to the Hermiston library, where she was put in charge of the toddler and preschool story times.
When Hermiston’s teen librarian retired, she took on those duties as well.
Now she can’t imagine doing anything else.
Martinez loves working with teens, and the part-time split — she works with the libraries computer system as well — is perfect for her.
“I love how different every day is, and I really like working with teenagers,” she explained. “They have a hard shell, but once they learn to respect and trust you, it’s great.”
A library is a great place to work, as you meet people you wouldn’t normally meet, she added. “It breaks all the socio/economic barriers,” she explained. “Everyone comes here.”
The “Dynamic Duo” joined forces for teens about four months ago, even as the second phase of expansion and remodeling of the upstairs mezzanine into a teen-focused (but open to all) space was hitting high gear. Now nearing completion, those new and remodeled spaces are opening the door for an even wider range of new programs.
“It’s a little stressful, but it’s fun to have the opportunity,” Hernandez said of the expansion. “We have the ability to take risks, to try new programs. If it works it’s awesome, if it doesn’t, that’s okay.”
Both teen librarians noted that the future and focus of programs are not driven by them, but by the teens themselves.
“We have lots of kids interested in lots of things, and they are telling us what they want,” said Martinez. “We’re constantly trying new things.”
Glaspy said they work with the teens themselves through an advisory board, open to all teens, and currently offer a host of teen- and staff-led clubs in addition to after-school and weekend programs.
And those offerings continue to expand as new space comes into service and new equipment comes on line.
“It’s truckin’,” said Glaspy. “We’re pretty excited.”