The Summer Reading Program is almost over. I hope you have checked out not only our materials but some of the fun programs we’ve had, too. There is still time to keep doing all of those things and win some prizes! 

I want to take my last summer post to discuss “leveling up.” If you’ve been following our summer reading promotion, you know we’ve been billing this time as a time to level up some skills — to embrace learning new things. But what we haven’t mentioned is that sometimes learning new things can be challenging and scary. 

Just like in a video game (to keep that metaphor) you have to go through trials and puzzles and defeat progressively bigger villains (hopefully not literally) to level up. Sometimes we are expecting them, and sometimes we aren’t. Leveling up isn’t just for gamers — it’s for the rest of us too.

I recently had an unexpected leveling-up moment here at the library. We went through a restructuring, and instead of having a Youth Services Coordinator, and an Adult Services Coordinator, we are now the Programs Coordinator and the Outreach Coordinator. So let me (re)introduce myself. 

Hi, I’m Brystan Strong, the Programs Coordinator for JCLS. 

Now, some of this work I’m used to. In my previous role, I coordinated youth programming and initiatives. This stays the same for me. But now I have a new audience to focus on: adults. 

This may not sound scary. But when I was in library school, my entire focus was youth. I never learned how to create or implement programming for adults or how to provide reference for adults.  

I was comfortable in my youth services role. It’s my wheelhouse. But as you might know, we at JCLS like to promote some safe discomfort. That’s why last spring, we encouraged you to Read Outside (of your comfort zone) and part of why we want you to level up this summer. So I took this summer’s theme to heart. 

I’ve been “leveling up” my adult services skills in my new role. I’ve been taking reference desk shifts, attending program brainstorm meetings with some of our fantastic adult services librarians, and meeting with community partners to do adult programming for us in the winter. Eventually, I know this won’t feel so foreign to me, and I have to admit that if I don’t let imposter syndrome take hold, I am excited to do this new thing. 

And that’s just how life is: sometimes, it forces us to grow. We level up every time we start a new job, have our first day of school, or start a new relationship or friendship.  

That’s the great thing about libraries, too. Libraries also have to ‘level up’ their collections, programs, and services to meet the needs of their communities. When I started working for JCLS, we didn’t have DART, Social Services, Education Services, Video Games….or even this blog.  

I am privileged to work in a field that ‘levels up’ for their community and, in turn, encourages me to ‘level up’ for it. Books are a library’s foundation, but we are also more than that. And I love that. 

But growth doesn’t end when summer ends. Our fall theme is “Fall into Adventure,” we hope you include us in whatever adventures you have — in books or otherwise.