The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Patti Penick
Youth Librarian


 Explain your current job.

In my current position, I’m responsible for overseeing all areas of the library that pertain to youth, so specifically birth up through teens. I work personally most closely with the younger set, so that would be birth up through fifth grade, but I directly supervise our teen library assistants who work with the kids that are in grades 6 up through 12. That includes programming, that includes collection development ... pretty much anything that impacts youth would fall within my purview.
How long have you worked there?
I have worked at the library in various positions ... since 2007. … I’ve been in my current position for almost five years.
How did you get interested in this field?
That is an interesting question. I originally left college and was working in human resources for a large … nationwide retailer, and I specialized in training and communications. And after I had my children, I cut back on that work and was staying at home just working part-time, and I was ready for a new challenge. I had always loved and still do love working with children. At one time I had thought about becoming an elementary school teacher, but that passed me by. So one day I was looking in the paper and I saw an ad for a part-time library assistant in the children’s room. When I read the description I thought, ‘Wow, this is everything that I love; it’s kids, reading, it’s literacy, it’s being with people.’ So I applied and I was fortunate enough to get that position.
What kind of education or training did you need for this?
To be considered a professional librarian, you do need to have your master’s degree. However, there are many, many people employed working in libraries that do not have their master’s degree. But, as a general rule, I would say that to be considered a professional librarian, meaning a library director, a supervisor, things of that nature, typically a master’s is desired. It really varies by library, to be honest with you.
How did you find your current job?
After a few years of working at the library, more opportunities opened up and I spoke with my director and we talked about me pursuing my master’s degree in library and information science. I did do that. I went back to school … it was an online program. … And I completed my master’s degree and I was eligible to move to the current position. 
What’s the best piece of work-related advice anyone’s ever given you?
To think carefully before speaking. To weigh all perspectives as carefully as you can. A former supervisor of mine in the HR position had said to me many years ago, “It is permissible to have unexpressed thoughts.” I’ve often thought of that to myself. 
What do you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?
I think, although I’m grateful for all the experiences that I’ve had collectively, because I think they all brought me to where I am ultimately in my career and just as a person, I do wish now that I am where I am that I had started earlier, that I had identified library as where I wanted to work. … That I had gotten started earlier on my master’s. 
What is your typical at-work uniform?
I would say it’s business casual. Friday at our library is jeans day.
What was the first job you ever had?
My very, very first job was working after school at a gift shop. I was 16, actually, and the name of the shop was Molly Dickens. It was an upscale gift shop. I was running the floor, helping customers.
— Ryan Lessard 

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