As told to Lindsey Williams
I started at Borders bookstore in the Riverwoods. When they closed their doors, there was an opening for a part-time teen librarian at the Springville Library and I thought it would be a good fit — I love that age and I love planning events. It turned out to be a great fit.
When I came to the library, I wanted to do a Harry Potter birthday party. Others wondered if Harry Potter was still relevant for teens, but I knew people would come. We had 250 teens show up for our Yule Ball our first year, and this year we had around 350. We’ve invited other libraries, and it’s empowered them to start their own teen programs.
The Harry Potter Yule Ball is our biggest teen event, but we have a monthly teen night so the kids can depend on having something to do on a Friday night in Springville. We’ve had laser tag, murder mysteries where the local high school improv group acted as the cast and the teens went room to room, escape wars, scavenger hunts, drone programs, ultimate frisbee, Minecraft programs and more.
We try to listen to the teens and hook into what they care about. It’s gratifying to see them invite their friends and leave excited.
“We are lucky in Springville. We have a community that supports a library and teen programming.” — Kim Christensen, Teen librarian at Springville Library
Matching books to kids is so rewarding. I’ll ask the kids, “What was the last book you read and couldn’t put down?” Then I’ll pull a whole bunch of books and they’ll pick the ones that look interesting. Three days later I’ll see them come in and ask for the next book in the series.
With our summer reading program, we had a goal as the Springville Library to read 1 million minutes. We read 1,776,240 minutes with teens reading 400,320 of those minutes. I encouraged the teens to read an hour a day, and I did it with them as well.
We are lucky in Springville. We have a community that supports a library and teen programming. We have a director who gives us a budget to throw parties and who doesn’t mind that we shut down the library for two hours so these kids can do whatever they want.
The last three years the library won Best of State, and this year we were voted best library in Utah Valley and the No. 2 coolest teen hangout spot in the Daily Herald. I was amazed when I heard that. I don’t know if it was the teens voting or the parents, but either way, they’re responding to what we’re trying to give them and I’m overwhelmed with the community support.
I originally came to Utah to attend UVU but then work took over my life. Now I’m going back to school this fall and doing online classes while continuing to work full time at the library.
I have a supportive staff, supportive city, a supportive director and supportive kids. I love my job and I don’t think everyone gets to wake up every day excited to go to work and happy to go to work. I recognize how blessed I am to love what I do.