Alison is the Teen Services Librarian at the St. Albert Public Library. This unique position allows her to collaborate with her fantastic colleagues from both Children’s Services and Adult Services. Alison manages the Youth Adult collections and plans popular programs for teens. She loves the creative aspects of her job, and in recent years has designed interactive summer reading games and escape rooms.


Photo Credit: Shane Allen, 2019. 

What’s an average day at your library?

I work a few hours a week at the Information Desk. Today’s reference tasks include helping job seekers navigate the world of online job applications, helping patrons borrow eBooks or eMovies for the first time, and assisting someone with finding their next good read. I regularly put fresh books on the teen displays to keep them looking inviting. Back at my desk I spend time ordering new young adult fiction books, plan what technology I will feature at the library table for a junior high school open house (Ozobots or littleBits Synth kits?), and create an online version of a teen booklist. At the end of the day, I facilitate the Teen Hangout program for around thirty energetic teens and tweens.

What was the first job you ever had?

My first job was life guarding at an outdoor pool in a city. I have fond memories of this job and two subsequent outdoor life guarding jobs in small communities in the Rocky Mountains. The pay was decent, and the perks included free soda from the concession and lots of sunshine.

How do you stay up to date in your field? 

To stay up to date in the public library field, I connect with colleagues from other libraries who also work with teens to share ideas for programs and services. I stay current with periodicals like School Library Journal, and I present at conferences (which comes with the bonus of attending other conference sessions and networking opportunities). Readers’ advisory is an important part of my job, and being an avid reader in my spare time helps immensely. I read many YA books so that I can confidently recommend books to teens based on their interests.

What is your favourite part of library, archive, or information services? 

The thing I like best about working in a public library is that we serve everyone. On any given day, I interact with patrons of all ages from many different backgrounds, and I enjoy the chance to brighten their day.

What are you reading or watching right now? 

I’m reading Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka and Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. I’m watching Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m on Season 5, Episode 7, where Data and Picard impersonate Romulans in order to follow Spock into Romulan space. Revisiting this series is eye-opening for me. I see how many modern technologies have been inspired by science fiction. The Enterprise crew are walking around with digital tablets!

If you didn’t work in information services, what do you think you’d be doing? 

I think it would be fun to work at CBC Radio.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? 

The teachers and librarians I admire have taught me the importance of trying new things. I feel the greatest sense of accomplishment when I work outside of my comfort zone.

What’s the coolest thing in your office or on your desk? 

My favourite thing on my desk is my fern plant – I love the way its feathery fronds unfurl. It’s a living, growing thing that I can look at while I’m coming up with my next big idea.