Things You Never Knew About Your Library

Customer, Staff, and Library Stories

Chelsea's first job was so great that she never left!

Chelsea Swinford-Johantges, Youth Services Associate, near her Sunflower House at the Scheben Branch

Killing plants! Yes killing plants is something I always thought I did very, very well. But recently I was inspired by a Pinterest post and Eve Bunting’s book The Sunflower House that gave me the opportunity to prove myself wrong. A few years ago I started growing a Sunflower House and Monarch Waystation at the Scheben Branch. To this day, it remains my most successful Pinterest project ever. We occasionally hold storytimes or
special preschool programs in the Sunflower House. Patrons often stop by to check it out and just recently some storytime regulars were spotted
having a picnic in the garden.
I’ve been with BCPL for ten years this September! Other than a paper route and some babysitting and tutoring gigs, BCPL was my first job. I started volunteering at the library regularly during my early teen years and was a member of the Teen Advisory Group (TAG) which brainstormed ideas for teen programs. When the Main Library opened, the teen librarian at the time recommended I apply for one of the new page positions. I’ve been working in different departments at BCPL since I was 16! I spent time in Circulation and Reference before landing happily in Youth Services at the Scheben Branch.
As a Youth Services Associate, I have an eclectic collection of responsibilities. Storytimes and special programs take up a good chunk of my time. Many of my programs focus on physical literacy defined as “the ability, confidence, and desire to be physically active for life”. One of my favorite programs is my Stories and Stretches series, which incorporates elements of yoga and mindfulness into storytime. In addition, I am a member of the Let’s Move in Libraries advisory board. This international initiative “focuses on supporting health and wellness with physical activity in public libraries”.
I love a good STEM program as well. From fizzing, bubbling chemistry experiments to pre-K computer classes to promoting environmental literacy with gardening, my programs cover a whole range of STEM and 21st century skills. Summer Reading is another major project of mine. Even in the dead of winter, when summer seems like a distant memory, I’m sure to be found wrangling up prizes or running reports. I schedule field trip requests, and I make monthly visits to the first grade classes at Yealey Elementary.

Chelsea Swinford-Johantges, Youth Services Associate

Working at BCPL renders a long list of great things! I love working with books and having access to all of our digital resources. As great as our collection is, though, it can be easy to take it for granted because you expect a library to have those things. What really drew me to a career in library sciences, and especially a career at BCPL, is all the fantastic, free programs we provide. Attending these programs as a tween and teen helped me develop a real sense of community (even when I was at my most jaded), and I am so grateful to be able to pass that feeling on to the children and families who come to my programs.
In addition to my time at BCPL, I worked part-time at Cincinnati Museum Center, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, a health food store, and as a barista (which is probably why I’m so thoroughly addicted to coffee). For most of my undergraduate career, I thought I was going to be a teacher, but at the last moment I decided to switch my major from English education to English literature, and now I’m pursuing my MLIS online through San Jose State University.
I am originally from Iowa, but only have a few memories of our home. My family moved to Florence when I was five. I have an older sister and two younger sisters (the youngest of whom–Nadine–also works at BCPL) as well and three sisters-in-law and two brothers-in-law. I also have two nieces and a brand-new nephew who seems to double in size every time I see him. I feel incredibly lucky to have such a large, loving family.

Chelsea’s Sunflower House at the Scheben Branch

Spare time isn’t something I have too much of, but I try to take some time for myself. I run and do yoga, and I’m planning to take my first (very short) backpacking trip soon. I’ve also really enjoyed taking my nieces to the awesome programs offered by the Boone County Parks and Boone County Conservation District. I dabble in a fewhobbies. Every once in a while I try to pick up knitting or photography, though the end product is never very satisfying. Right now I’m trying my hand at birding and mycology.  There isn’t much I can recognize without a guide, but it’s a big thrill when I can.
So check out any of my programs or stop by the Scheben Branch to say hello!

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