This interview is over 1 year old and may no longer be up to date or reflect the interviewee/interviewees’ positions
by Leigh Milligan, Head Editor, INALJ Wisconsin
Lanora Melillo…Youth Services Librarian and Webmaster
Lanora is my great librarian friend who I met through my MLIS classes at Drexel University. She has my goal job of what I would like to have in my future of librarianship and I am pleased to share her interesting job experiences with all!
Leigh: How did you find your current job at Secaucus Public Library in New Jersey?
Lanora: I believe that I found my current job through the New Jersey Library Association Job Hotline website.
Leigh: Tell us a little bit more about what are the job duties of a Youth Services Librarian and Webmaster.
Lanora: My job involves collection development for children and young adults from birth to ages 24. I run weekly programs for children ages 6 and up, and I also run special programs for children under the age of 6. These programs range from crafts, book clubs, technology, story times, and gaming. I provide reader advisories for children, teachers and their caregivers – and I co-run some of my programs with the local schools, arrange tours and classroom visits, coordinate and supervise all children and teen volunteers, and provide book lists geared towards assignments and general interest.
As the webmaster, I update and monitor the website. I recently reformatted the website, while it isn’t perfect, it allows more accessibility. At this time, I am working on a content management system website (using Drupal) and I will begin training library staff this fall. I also update our social networking pages, take event photos, create event fliers and write press releases.
Leigh: Why do you think your tech club program for ages 8-12 is your most successful and popular program currently? What steps did you have to take to make it as popular as it is right now?
Lanora: So, the tech club at the library is not only my most successful and popular program, but it is also my most interesting program. A lot of the programs that I do at the library are done from scratch. I discuss my ideas with other staff members and then I brainstorm. The Tech Club was a program that already was held at the library. After a month of working at the library, I asked if I was going to continue it. After reviewing the previous Tech Club – which was a Teen Technology Club that taught Microsoft Office, I quickly began to re-evaluate the program (my first step).
My second stop was to think about what I wanted the outcome of the Tech Club to be. I want to provide children with the opportunity to heighten their interest using 21st century technology skills that they can then use during their education and even their careers later on.
The next step was to approach the whole teaching thing. I am certified to teach K-12; however, I did not want to make the entire “club” about teaching. I wanted it to be a club – I wanted it to be fun. So, I do a more laid back type of teaching approach. I let the kids and I learn together. We work together to create a project and to finish a project. When we are done they then get to create one on their own. I find this works best, as sometimes I will make a silly mistake to see how much they’re paying attention. I also let the older children work on different projects. Some of the children will just come in to work on their website, make an animation or a web comic.
Kids – even adults – are fascinated with technology. It is amazing to be able to apply math, science, art, music and much more just in one setting. I spent a lot – and still do – a lot of time developing my Tech Club program. I evaluate what I do and evaluate the interest of the kids that attend the program. I spend a great deal talking to them and learning what they want. So, I think that has a lot to do with the popularity factor.
Leigh: Out of all the programs you do currently and/or have done at your library, which one is your favorite and why?
Lanora: I am torn to say which one is my favorite as they are all my favorites! I hold them all very dear to my heart and I enjoy working with each child and developing their interests.
Leigh: You must be really busy running all of these programs for children and teens, as well as managing a website, doing a content management website with Drupal, and providing technology training. Are there any challenges in being this well rounded on the job?
Lanora: One of the key things for any job, library or not, is the ability to multitask, to know what you are doing, and be able to talk to the public. Sometimes it can be tricky to plan things exactly when you are training, doing the website and coordinating programs, but I find it does eventually work out. I always make sure I approach each situation with an open mind and communicate with library staff and my director.
I find that the challenges for my job are the same for any other job. As part of my job, I am also the web-master and I do rely heavily on having access to the Internet. So, if there is a storm and our server crashes, there could be a potential challenge on updating the website or social media websites.
Leigh: What blogs and websites should we be following?
Lanora: I am a huge twitter fan.
Here are just a few – librarians on twitter that I follow (– if you would like a better list, Andy Woodworth has some https://twitter.com/wawoodworth/lists
- Joe Murphy@libraryfuture
- Andy Woodworth @wawoodworth
- pcsweeney @pcsweeney
- Emily Clasper @eclasper
- valerie forrestal @vforrestal
- Amy J. Kearns @akearns
As for blogs, I follow a lot of manga publishers- but these are interest based. I would recommend finding a librarian that has a position similar to the one you would like in the future (you want to work with technology services, find an IT librarian on twitter or see if they have a blog). It is helpful to make connections as well (which is why I am active on twitter @librarianbunny)
Here are some of my blogs:
Do you have any job-hunting advice?
It is very important to get your name out there. It is important to offer to help, volunteer and work in a field you are passionate about. I know that sometimes it is difficult because you want/need a job, but working in a field that you are not passionate about can drain you.
Also, stay active in the field. Keep reading, keep learning and keep communicating!
Lanora Melillo has been the Youth Services Librarian and Webmaster at the Secaucus Public Library since 2011. She is a 2012-2013 New Jersey Library Association Emerging Leader, and has presented at the 2011 and 2012 state conferences, and the 2011 and 2012 State Youth Services Forum. Lanora has been an avid anime and manga fan for over 17 years, and has been working with children for over 8 years. Follow her on Twitter @librarianbunny