Living a creative life at the library

I started my career as an author for teens and tweens in 1999. My two decades in the book business swung wildly between periods of exhilaration and exasperation–and the see-saw between extremes was rarely in my control. To achieve a healthier life balance, I took an indefinite hiatus from writing novels in late 2021. Fortunately, a part-time position at the library opened up right around the same time. 

Since taking the job as a library associate in Youth Services, I’ve been asked many times by colleagues, friends and family whether I miss my “creative life” in publishing. Sure, patrons usually find me behind the desk or walking the floor, recommending books, lending gadgets, filling and refilling the in- demand Art Boxes. But in addition to the typical day-to-day duties, I have, in the last few weeks:

  • Written more than 25 mini-movie reviews to narrow down finalists for the Princeton Student Film Festival before the June 1 deadline (yes, a shameless plug for entries)
  • Designed (in the words of one tween) “OMG so cute” bookmarks to serve as examples for an Imagination Station self-guided craft for Screen-Free Week
  • Parodied three iconic pop songs in tribute to outgoing Head of Youth Services, the inimitable Susan Conlon, who is retiring after 25 years at the library (can’t spoil the surprise here…but I promise you, reader, they are bangers)

If you ask any of my YS colleagues what they’ve been working on lately, they’d share their own bulleted lists of long and short-term projects. They’re designing 3D flowers for the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month bulletin board. (See the artistry for yourself on the third floor now.) They’re coming up with Storytime themes that captivate the squirmiest toddlers. They’re upcycling toilet paper rolls for Take and Make crafts. They’re brainstorming intrepid programs like a stuffie sleepover, indoor campfire or family fort night for this year’s summer reading theme: Adventure Begins At Your Library.

Indeed it does. The third floor is a vibrant, playful space intended to encourage innovation and imagination. It’s a group effort that mostly happens behind-the-scenes. Everyone in Youth Services is in a perpetual state of creation, and I am constantly inspired to explore outside my comfort zone. So no, I don’t miss my old “creative life.” Not only am I still living a “creative life,” but working in Youth Services requires me to tap into an ever-evolving reserve of resourcefulness I never knew I had. 

And now I can add…

  • Conceived and completed a post for the PPL blog

To that list.

Scroll to Top