Gleason welcomes new Children’s and Teen Services Librarian 

by Karina Coombs

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New Gleason Children’s and Teen Librarian Tahleen Shamlian. (Photo by Karina Coombs) 

When then-acting directors Martha Patten and Marty Seneta were looking for a new Children’s and Teen Services Librarian at Gleason Library this past summer, they began the search with a specific set of criteria. Says Senior Librarian Patten, “When we look at applications, the criteria we start with are education and work experience related to public libraries; experience in dealing with the public and with children and teens specifically; and familiarity with current library trends like eBooks and social media. Personality is [also] important—we were looking for someone who’s enthusiastic and who will help create a welcoming library environment.”

Patten and Seneta found an ideal candidate in Tahleen Shamlian, Gleason’s new librarian. Coming on board just days before the Great Pumpkin Spectacle and Hurricane Sandy, Shamlian jumped right in and has been busy revamping the teen space within Gleason as well as updating and expanding an online teen space.  “It’s been a good month so far,” reports a friendly and eager Shamlian. When then-acting directors Martha Patten and Marty Seneta were looking for a new Children’s and Teen Services Librarian at Gleason Library this past summer, they began the search with a specific set of criteria. Says Senior Librarian Patten, “When we look at applications, the criteria we start with are education and work experience related to public libraries; experience in dealing with the public and with children and teens specifically; and familiarity with current library trends like eBooks and social media. Personality is [also] important —we were looking for someone who’s enthusiastic and who will help create a welcoming library environment.” 

A Burlington native, Shamlian received her Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science in May from Simmons College and has an undergraduate degree in English from Ithaca College.  Before coming to Carlisle, Shamlian worked part-time as a library technician at the Cary Memorial Library in Lexington when she was not in graduate school, or researching, posting and commenting on young adult titles for her now two-and-a-half-year-old blog, Tahleen’s Mixed-up Files.  

“I never expected to work in a small rural town,” says Shamlian.  “I was surprised when I was looking at the demographics and trying to get a sense of the community and saw there were only 4,900 people.”  

As with all the librarians at Gleason, Shamlian wears many hats and she will be involved in preschool story time, book club and summer reading programs for grades 3 and 4, and after school programs in addition to her other responsibilities.  “Since we’re a relatively small library, we need people who enjoy pitching in in all areas, from inter-library loans to planning craft activities,” explains Patten.  “Everyone here works at the circulation desk, in the children’s room and on other projects like ordering and processing new books, rather than being assigned to more specific departments like at many larger libraries.”  

Shamlian has wasted no time in retooling the teen section at Gleason—her particular focus—and hopes to create a welcoming and inclusive space. “It is important for the younger demographics to have their own place to go online as well as in the library,” explains Shamlian, noting that the teen space is right in the middle of the adult section.  She has been busy “weeding” through dated fiction or unpopular titles and ordering new books for tweens and teens as well as physically shifting book collections to get the attention of teens. Shamlian explains that she begins selecting new books by reading reviews and determining whether or not a book fits her age range. If it seems popular she’ll order it. “I’m a book blogger in mostly young adult fiction and well informed about what is going on in the industry. It’s helpful to be able to tap into that and see what people are liking and what is not going over so well and what is getting the buzz,” says Shamlian.  

Shamlian has also started a social media campaign, creating both a Gleason teen blog (http://gleasonteens.tumblr.com) and a Twitter account (@GleasonTeens) where she has already amassed 40 library-related tweets (https://twitter.com/GleasonTeens).   Shamlian hopes to use both platforms to get the attention of Carlisle teens by informing them of upcoming events or other items of interest. There is also a Gleason teen page on the popular site Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/gleasonteens) that is updated frequently.  “The online space is really important today because people expect to find the information they want immediately and if they don’t they get frustrated,” notes Shamlian.

In her short time at Gleason, Shamlian has already been to both the Carlisle School and Concord-Carlisle High School to meet the students and librarians and commends both Sandy Kelly (Carlisle School) and Robin Cicchetti (CCHS) for the work they have done for their respective populations. Shamlian noted that she and Kelly led a popular duct tape craft workshop at the Carlisle School on December 6. Shamlian will also be running the December 7 meeting of the Teens of Gleason Advisors (TOGA) meeting from 3 to 3:45 p.m. for grades 5-8 at Gleason. Since Carlisle teens do not spend as much time at the Gleason Library as the middle school students, Shamlian is hoping for a chance to work with Cicchetti in the future so she can build a relationship with them and get them more involved in Gleason. Full of ideas and exuberance, Shamlian also hopes to do more regular activities and create a series of programs once or twice a month at the library. Says Shamlian, “I’m here and ready to serve the teens and help the community if they are willing to let me do it.”    ∆