Meet the Librarian: Kate Young

What she does: Librarian at Franklin Avenue branch. My primary job is customer service. I work at most of the public service desks at Franklin so I’m helping people find their books, upload their resumes, figure out what to read next, use our apps for eBooks, start their first email account, etc. Behind the scenes I spend a lot of time planning the staff schedule and helping the branch manager with administrative tasks. I also do collection maintenance — that is, weeding old items and ordering new ones. I’ll jump in and help with staff training or other projects as the need arises.

How did you get to this position? 

I started as a professional substitute in January of 1999 and was hired full-time in April 1999 at the North Side Library. I’ve worked at every location at some point over the years and done all kinds of things, from storytimes to teaching internet classes, to social media. I came to Franklin when part-time librarian positions were created in response to budget cuts in 2004, which coincided with the birth of my oldest child. I returned to a full-time position at Franklin two years ago.

How would you describe your job? 

For some reason I’m thinking this is supposed to be a one-word answer! Busy. Rewarding. Zany. I may need to consult a thesaurus.

When did you know you wanted to be a librarian?

I worked in a public library, reshelving books, as a high school student, but it didn’t occur to me that it would make a good career until I walked into my college library and felt completely overwhelmed and intimidated. Librarians to the rescue! They took a tentative first-year student who had a vague idea for a research paper, asked a bunch of questions, helped me refine my idea, taught me how to use all the books and journals and databases and before long I was confidently using the library.

I knew I wanted a service-oriented career and was thinking of teaching or social work but knew they wouldn’t be quite the right fit for me. Being a librarian entails a bit of both, and from watching the librarians I realized that the job boils down to helping people get the most out of their library. It can be intimidating and daunting to walk into a library, but librarians are there to make it less scary and show you all the cool stuff available and teach you how to use it. I decided to work in public libraries, rather than academic, because I wanted to help people of all ages, and all walks of life, get the most out of their library.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the variety in my day and the fact that no matter what I’m doing, I’m helping improve people’s lives — sometimes just in tiny incremental ways, sometimes bigger. I enjoy my coworkers and the feeling that the library is a second home, not just for me but for everybody in the community. It’s a great place for families to hang out, for neighbors to bump into each other and reconnect, for those who are lonely to feel part of something outside themselves. I love that curiosity is essential to the job, and that I’m constantly learning new things.

Has anything happened recently that made you feel proud or inspired about your role or the role of libraries in general?

We recently got a phone call from a patron who was at Barnes and Noble, buying books, and wanted our advice on which authors to pick. She is a library regular as well, but in this case she was buying some books and she knew the best source for recommendations was to call and ask her favorite librarians.

When you’re off the clock, what are your hobbies/interests?

Reading! I enjoy literary and historical fiction, plus of course all the good book discussion books. I listen to nonfiction eAudiobooks, as well. With my younger kids, I’m reading aloud through the Harry Potter series — we are up to the Goblet of Fire. My husband and I enjoy bingeing a few shows; we just tore through season two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and now we are sad to have to wait for more episodes. Otherwise I’m mostly at the kids’ activities — currently basketball games and show choir competitions.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon. It takes place in an assisted-living center and the main character is beginning to struggle with dementia. A new man moves in who looks just like someone from her past, someone she knows died in 1954. The new guy is up to no good but no one believes her because her mind is “muddled.” It’s beautifully written with a devious twist at the end.

Anything coming up at Franklin Library that you’d like to highlight?

We always look forward to Clifford and Dan Wardell visiting us in February! For the grownups in February we have a great film and discussion series called Becoming American, which will be an opportunity to learn about the history of immigration in America and discuss current issues in immigration. For teens we’ll be having an Anti-Valentine’s Day party, which sounds awesome.