The Levittown Public Library is excited to celebrate the recent accomplishment of librarian Nancy Evans. Nancy, who is a stellar member of our Young Adult department, was recently announced as a “Mover & Shaker” by Library Journal magazine. I realize that this award doesn’t have the name recognition of the GRAMMY awards or the Pulitzer Prize, but take my word for it: this is a really, really big deal! Library Journal is a force in our field of work, and to be named a Mover & Shaker signifies that you are a library professional making a real impact on your community. Nancy was singled out as an advocate based on Strong Girls School, an empowering program she developed for middle school and high school girls. A “how-to” manual on the program will be published later this year.
To celebrate Nancy’s accomplishment, we will be holding a reception in her honor just before the start of the Teen Advisory Board meeting on Friday, April 7, 2017 from 3:30- 4:30 p.m. in Meeting Rooms 1 & 2. The event is open to the public, and we welcome all of our patrons to join us in this celebration.
I spoke with Nancy about this exciting news. Our conversation, which includes information not found in the Library Journal article, follows below.
Jessica: How did you find out that you were named a Mover & Shaker? What was your reaction to the news?
Nancy: Library Journal notified me by email. I was very surprised and very excited! I had to keep it a secret, which was difficult. Of course, I told my family.
Jessica: Tell me about your Strong Girls program.
Nancy: It runs for six weeks for girls in grades 6-12. It’s 1 ½ -2 hours per session. We discuss gender bias, beauty, body image, the media, friendship, bullying, healthy relationships, and other topical issues that the girls want to discuss. We do a mix of discussion and activities, like watching YouTube videos. Sometimes, I hand out worksheets. The girls usually like to talk a lot. The older girls, who have done this for a few cycles, have started mentoring the younger girls. I noticed their interest and made them facilitators in exchange for community service hours.
Jessica: What does it mean to you to be called an “advocate?” What is the significance of advocacy, specifically as it relates to working with young adults? [Note: Library Journal separates Movers & Shakers into the following categories: Advocates, Change Agents, Community Builders, Digital Developers, and Innovators. Nancy was named an “Advocate.”]
Nancy: To me, it means that I advocate for teens as a valid population who are deserving of excellent library services and programs.
Jessica: Aside from Strong Girls School, what other programs that you’ve done have been especially fulfilling, fun, or exciting?
Nancy: We’ve been doing programs with differently abled students from local middle schools. It started with basic tours of the library and then developed into storytimes. We’re now branching out to programs in the Innovation Station. littleBits has worked out great as a program because there’s no risk of injury and it can be as simple or as complex as the students’ skill levels. We try to find a balance; we don’t want to talk down to them or read books that are too babyish. We rely on feedback from the teachers. Working with the students has been super rewarding. They’re very loving and affectionate. As their bus pulls up, we can see each other through the window and they start jumping and waving. They think we’re rock stars, but we think they’re the rock stars. We have so many resources here at the library and it’s great to be able to reach this population.
Jessica: How’s the book coming along?
Nancy: It’s one thing to write articles, but it’s another thing to write a book! [Note: Nancy has published several articles in Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)]. I would like to see other librarians put their own imprint on the Strong Girls Program. My hope is that others won’t fear the program because it’s gender-based. I know that other libraries are doing programs like this. Ever since I gave a presentation about Strong Girls at the Public Library Association conference last year, I’ve been contacted by other librarians asking for advice.
Jessica: One last question…What are you reading?
Nancy: Pay it Forward.
Stop by Meeting Rooms 1 & 2 on April 7th to show your support for Nancy and the incredible job she does for our teens!