Kip Polmanteer is the new young adult librarian at your Library, so she serves ages 12-18. She is reimagining our teen programs and collection, and revitalizing the Teen Space.
We recently asked Kip about her vision for Teen Services, and what’s on the horizon for teens at the Library.
How long have you worked at Johnson City Public Library, and what were your past roles here?
I have been at the Library for five years. I started as a part-time clerk in the Children’s Library, and made my way to full time there. I learned so much working in the Children’s Library, from staff and users alike. I was lucky that a spark was lit there that turned a part-time job into my dream career.
Why are you excited to work with and serve our community’s teens?
Teens often get lumped in as “older kids,” and I don’t think that’s fair. Being a teenager has always been difficult, as it is significant period of transition in life. Our teens need and deserve a space that honors them for who they are and where they are in life.
We’ve always been fortunate at the Library to have some of the coolest, most interesting teen users, and I am really looking forward to providing a safe, fun space for them to find themselves and grow. I’m already learning so much from them, and I hope that as a Library we can engage and encourage our teens to create a life that inspires them.
What is your vision for the Library’s Teen Services moving forward?
My vision for Teen Services is pretty simple: Let it bloom! We’re already working on changes in the department. We’ve added new furniture and shifted the collection to create a more defined flow in the Teen Space. And this fall we’ll be updating the way programs are run.
I want to find out from our teens what best serves them, interests them, and makes them want to be here. And I want to use what I learn to build something we can all be proud of for our community. I’m committed to creating a safe space that can change and flow with what teens need.
How do you see our Teen Space, teen programs, and young adult collection being expressions of the Library’s mission and values?
This is something that I think about a lot, especially in terms of programs and collection development. Two of the Library’s cultural value statements that I think are most important for teens are “We Are Empowering” and “We Are Dreamers.” My two main goals are closely intertwined with these two statements.
I want to empower our teens to find out who they are and what they need in life, and to guide them to the resources they need to make that happen.
I also think it’s so easy to get bogged down with everything happening in the world and lose sight of our dreams. Teens are no exception to this. I don’t want them to get jaded or cynical when it comes to what inspires them. I want to give them the tools to pursue their dreams and make them reality. I want them to know that if they can imagine it, and if they have the passion, they can do anything.
If building a capable, empowered, inspired community of young adults doesn’t fit our mission as a free, local institution, I don’t know what does.
What are some things you have planned for the fall?
As far as teen programs this fall, our team is super stoked for what is coming up! From D&D one-shot adventures, to spooky-themed book clubs, to tween-specific events, the next few months are going to be a blast. Also, Miyazaki fans should be on the lookout for some Ghibli-adjacent programming in November. I won’t give it all away, but stay tuned!
We’re also changing the format of our Teen Advisory Board to be more of an open forum. Starting in August, interested teens can come to meetings at will to share their ideas and opinions. Our next meeting is on Wednesday, August 23 at 6:30 p.m.
Along with planning programs, our staff has spent the summer shifting, reworking, and rebuilding our collection to better fit the needs of our teens.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you or our Teen Services?
Teens are so important and bring so much to the table, often in ways we don’t realize. I want our community to see and appreciate that potential. Teens aren’t just stuck in the middle—no longer kids, not yet adults. They are creative, intelligent, and capable. They are empowered and they are dreamers. I’m so excited to grow and evolve our Teen Services to suit their needs, and to help them discover their paths in life.