Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sam Sednek

I graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in August of 2011 and have since been working as the Teen Services Librarian at the Haverhill Public Library in Massachusetts. Prior to grad school, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the southern African country of Lesotho as an English teacher and community library developer. I'm a big fan of getting teens to create content not just consume it and I hope to continue working in libraries striving to add digital media centers to their list of services. 


My current job is a little of everything. My library is short on people and long on jobs. I do reference, help with the website, do some children's programming, all teen programming and teen collection development.

Teen Services is really a do anything, do everything job. I was hired to “handle the teens” but was given a lot of leeway on how that gets done. So, I've done rocket launches, added computers to the Teen Area, am working with teens on painting benches, can't wait until the next outdoor capture the flag game, love working with the robotics club, and hope that the upcoming Beautiful Creatures movie stirs up as much book excitement as the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises did. 

Who is your greatest ally and why?

The head of children's services, my boss, was the last Teen Services librarian in Haverhill. The assistant director of the library was the Teen Services librarian before her. I've got a lot of administrative support and it helps me get far. 

How do you stay current? 

People often forget how useful the internet is...I mean, it is full of adorable cats memes and endless flash games but if you work with teens half of that can be turned into a program. I read blogs that interest me (io9, 4YA, Lifehacker, Jezebel) and then I turn as much of that into a program or activity for my kids. It has worked pretty well so far! 

How do you measure success? 

On the last half day of school, I was working on a new booklist at my desk when five kids made their way over. “Sam! What are we going to do today?!” was the call...and I knew I had some level of success. I got kids running from school to the library to do stuff. What's better than that?


What's worth fighting for? Why? 

Money. Budget cuts are everywhere but if you can build a program that brings folks into the library and has them leave with a) library materials and b) a smile on their face, you've got it made. Apply for grants even if they're scary and time consuming because once you start getting outside funding your possibilities become endless. 

How do you respond when someone asks you, “Isn't everything online?” 

Well, it pretty much is and we're heading further in that dirction, so when I get that line the first thing out of my mouth is, “Absolutely! Have you seen our awesome new databases?” Folks think everything is on Google but if you have one or two good databases up your sleeve you can show them the one-stop shop isn't Google but your library's webpage.


What fictional character would you most like to be for a day? 

Honestly? I read a lot of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. Most fictional characters have really awful lives and I'd pretty much pass on all of 'em. But, I do sort of like the crazy medieval world in R.L. LaFevers' Grave Mercy so maybe I'd be Ismae...after she learns how to kill people. 

How do you hope to spend your retirement? 

Wait. What? Librarians actually retire? 

Paper or digital? 

All of the above. The more formats we have the more people we can reach. There's no losing scenario there.

Email Sam at sednek1@gmail.com

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