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Meet Jessica Agudelo – ALSC’s 2020 Emerging Leader

Late last year, ALSC selected Jessica Agudelo, the Supervising Librarian for the Bronx Library Center’s children’s department, as its representative in the 2020 Emerging Leader program. Here is your chance to learn a bit more about Jessica  through a series of questions.

Tell us a bit about your background…

Jessica AgudeloI am a born and bred New Yorker of Colombian descent, and grew up in the magnificent borough of Queens. I always loved reading as a kid, thanks to my mom who read to my brother and I everyday. When I got older I knew that all I wanted was to be around literature and books, which eventually led me to working in bookstores after college. Retail wasn’t for me, but I knew I still wanted to be around books and share what I loved with others. Luckily, a coworker was attending library school and opened up my eyes to the possibility of librarianship. From there I went on to work for the New York Public Library, and complete my MLS. And honestly, I can’t picture myself in any other professional world. It takes me back to growing up in NYC and making use of our libraries to get my reading fix. It’s a privilege to pay it forward now.

What made you decide to get involved with children’s librarianship?

It was a happy coincidence. When I began working at the 125th Street Branch of the New York Public Library, their children’s librarian was out on maternity leave. I was asked if I’d be interested in covering for children’s services, and I said of course! I’ve always loved kids, and compared to adult services, it was way more fun and fulfilling to spend time with young library patrons. I think the library experiences we have as young kids have a big impact on us as readers and library users in adulthood, and I want to be sure to inspire kids to be lifelong library users and learners.

What is your favorite part of being a children’s librarian?

Seeing kids read! I’m always disappointed when I hear cynical comments about kids not reading anymore because of all the available technology. But it’s not true. I see kids browsing the shelves, picking out books, and sitting down (or laying across the carpet) to read everyday single day. It warms my heart every time.

What is your favorite age to work with at the Library?

Three and four year olds. Developmentally It’s a great stage. I love watching them learn and engage with each other and the adults around them. Plus, they’re super cute and never boring.

What is your favorite thing about your current job?

My favorite thing about my current job is being able to innovate and expand the services offered in the children’s department. I work in a very vibrant community, where people are very proud of where they’re from. So I want the library to reflect that love and be a place that kids and families can call their own and…

What made you apply for the Emerging Leader program?

I am always looking for new challenges and trying to push myself outside of my professional comfort zone. I knew that the team project experience would be something totally new, especially since it involves collaborating remotely. It also helped that all of the previous Emerging Leaders I know raved about the experience. That was definitely encouraging.

How did you feel when you were selected as ALSC’s Emerging Leader?

Honored and excited! I had thought about applying for the program for a while, and since this was the last year I’d be eligible, I figured I had to go for it. So I was pleasantly surprised and grateful to be selected, and to be working on an exciting project with a great team.

Was Midwinter be the first ALA Conference you’ve attended?  What did you enjoy most?

Although I’ve attended Annual several times, this was my first Midwinter. So it was also my first time attending the Youth Media Award announcements. It’s the best Award Ceremony for librarians and youth book lovers! It was a thrill to see so many outstanding books get recognition, and to be able to support some of my colleagues who served on the various committees. Plus, I’ll be on a committee myself for next year’s awards and can’t wait!

This blog relates to ALSC Core Competency of Professionalism and Professional Development.

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