Grand County libraries: Jennings pours heart into youth library programs
March 17, 2008
“How lucky the kids are to have Lynn Jennings.”
That’s just one quote from a Granby Library patron who had high praise for the abilities, skills and empathy of the Granby Library’s Youth Services Librarian Lynn Jennings.
The children are lucky, yes. But it has taken a lot more than luck to make Jennings the excellent librarian that she is. Education, experience and an understanding of youth in general make Jennings the perfect youth services librarian for Granby.
It’s her effort to make young library users feel at home that sets Jennings apart.
“I make an effort to greet ” by name, if possible ” every young person who comes into the Children’s and Teen Library,” Jennings said. “I try to make them feel important and valued. I believe that the more we allow children and teens to express themselves in a safe, less judgmental atmosphere, the more likely they are to make better decisions.”
This extra effort to embrace and understand youths is one reason why the Granby Library has very high numbers for youth attendance, both for programs and for general library use. More children and teens are coming each day and youngsters return in high numbers.
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Granby Library Branch Librarian Cindy Eubank is very happy with Lynn’s approach.
“Some of the synonyms for enthusiastic are: eager, passionate, impassioned, devoted,” Eubank said. “Another synonym for enthusiastic might be ‘Lynn Jennings.’ Lynn Jennings literally brings the ‘jumping up and down’ enthusiasm of a child to her position as Youth Services Librarian for the Granby Library.”
“I love providing programs for kids,” Jennings said. She offers and organizes story hours, class visits, after school clubs, “Teens Third Thursday” gatherings and contests.
“This allows me to get to know the kids and makes them comfortable in the library,” she said. “Maybe, if they have a project to do for school or scouts, or something else, they’ll remember a book we read or a craft we did and come to the library for help or information.”
Not only does this approach teach youths to feel at home in their library, it helps them realize that libraries are phenomenal resources for research and plain-old curiosity. She’s teaching them a skill for life that they can enjoy as youths.
“I think a lot of people still think of library programming for kids in terms of story hours for preschoolers,” Jennings said. “As we try to provide programs and activities for all ages, people are seeing the library as a place for their kids, and maybe themselves, to hang out. The computers in the children’s and teen areas get a lot of use.
Sometimes, they’re even used for homework and research projects.”
Jennings knows that making reassuring connections with youths takes more than
good programming. It also involves informed and careful decision-making about items in the library for youths.
“When I select materials for the collection I try to choose a wide variety of genres and topics, so there is something for everyone,” Jennings said. “I really appreciate suggestions from the kids and parents and try to incorporate them into my selections.”
Incorporating to outside ideas is a critical part of Jennings’ approach to her job. After all, one of her primary job duties is to maintain and develop all collections of books, movies, music, and other media in the children’s library. She does this with an open mind and knowledge of the Granby community’s interests.
A similar philosophy guides her approach toward developing and delivering library programs and presenting information about services, collections and programs. She does it all by maintaining consistent contact and interaction with community groups and agencies.
Her experience with the Grand County Library District began in 2001. She has been the Youth Services Librarian in Granby since February of 2006. Before that she was the Youth Services Librarian at the Fraser Valley Library.
“My daughter, Stacee, and I have lived in Grand County full-time since March, 1982, but I have spent vacations here since my grandparents, Frank and Gladys Temple, bought property on the Colorado River in the early 1960s,” she said. “My husband, Homer Jennings, and I were married in February 1987.”
That local connection allows her to understand the unique needs and demands of youths in Granby.
Her education has also helped her in many ways. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Relationships from Colorado State University in 1975 and her Master’s Degree in Bilingual-Multicultural Education from the University of Northern Colorado in 1977. Jennings speaks Spanish and has some knowledge of Italian and several other languages.
Branch Librarian Eubank has high praise for the strength of Jennings’ knowledge and experience.
“Lynn brings an excellent background of experience and education to her position, but she is always striving to do better – to bring better books, better services, and better programs to the children and young adults of our community,” Eubank said. “As just one example of her commitment to furthering her own education and skills and of her commitment to reaching out to our community, last fall Lynn attended training so that she can begin to offer the program ‘Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library.’
This program assists parents, child care providers, early childhood educators, and children’s advocates in their roles in preparing young children for success as readers.”
“It’s clear that Jennings is an excellent role model for children of all ages, Eubank said. “She is enthusiastic, committed, and well read.”
Eubank said she “couldn’t agree more” that the kids are lucky to have Lynn Jennings as their youth services librarian.
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