Krista Tiller didn't start out wanting to be a librarian.
Tiller, the teen services librarian at the Minot Public Library since June, said she started her career as a page at her hometown library in Keokuk, Iowa. Everyone told her she was going to be a librarian when she grew up and Tiller said, "No, I won't! Do you know how boring that would be?"
Tiller had originally wanted to work at a local bank and have a banking career, but the banks were not hiring teenagers. She ended up loving the library job so much that it soon became her career.
Andrea Johnson/MDN •
Teen services librarian Krista Tiller poses in the tweens and teens section at the Minot Public Library.
She stayed at the Keokuk Library as a page through college, returned there after finishing her master's degree to work in the children's library and moved to a position as the youth services librarian at Omaha Public Library in Omaha, Neb. She ended up in Minot because her husband had been transferred to Minot Air Force Base.
"I like to build relationships with the kids," said Tiller, who said it was a thrill to see kids she had seen at regular story hours come back to talk to "Miss Krista" when they were a few years older and be so excited about showing her what they were reading next.
Now Tiller is doing her best to build those relationships with the tweens and teens at the Minot Public Library. The boys participating in the regular gaming tournaments love showing Tiller just how the games are played. Sometimes they'll bring in their own gaming systems, hook them up with the ones owned by the library, and eight kids at a time will be playing a game at once. Tiller said she's saving up to buy her own Nintendo Wii system, so the advice is appreciated.
Winter and spring teen programming schedule:
Jan. 18: Ice Cream Dream, 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Jan. 28: Gaming, 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 11: Movie Night, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 15: Fashion Trends, afternoon
Feb. 25: Gaming, 6 to 8 p.m.
March 1: TAG Meeting, 4 to 5 p.m.
March 7-13: Teen Tech Week
March 11: Movie Night, 6:30 p.m.
March 12: Game Tournament, starts at 11 a.m.
March 25: Gaming: 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
April 1: To be announced
April 5: TAG meeting, 4 to 5 p.m.
April 8: Movie Night, 6:30 p.m.
April 22: Gaming, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
May 13: Movie Night, 6:30 p.m.
May 27: Gaming, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
The gaming nights are possible thanks to the Friends of the Minot Public Library, which provided a grant for the library to purchase an XBox 360 and Nintendo Wii gaming systems and games for them. There is more money available to purchase additional games if kids suggest titles they'd like, said Tiller, and personnel at the local store Game Crazy have helped put on gaming tournaments and offered suggestions about what equipment would be best to purchase for the library.
Tiller said another popular teen program was the "Hello, Cupcake" cupcake decorating event held last fall with employees from a local grocery store. Nearly 30 kids showed up to make the cupcakes. Last year's theme was "Express Yourself," so library personnel did their best to find artistic activities for teens and tweens to do. Before Christmas, kids decorated wire Christmas trees with beads or made pencil holders by wrapping wallpaper around cans. At another session, kids decorated books that had been discarded from the library with photos and other craft items. A creative writing workshop last fall conducted by a local English teacher was also popular.
"I like the craft part," said Tiller, "but it's difficult to find crafts for teens." There are more craft projects available for younger children, but for teenagers the projects should be a bit more elaborate.
The library has an area set up for teens and older preteens with computers, audio equipment, and cool looking furniture just for them. A sign declares the area is for teens and tweens only and adults should stay out. Tiller is trying to round out the book offerings in the library by purchasing more graphic novels and making sure that all books in a series are available for kids to read. Tiller said it can be frustrating if a teen is reading a series of books that is missing one or more books. She's open to suggestions about books that should be selected too. She orders all of the most recent library journals and gets ideas about the newest, most recommended novels for youth.
Tiller said kids who come to some of the events at the library are surprised by all that there is to offer. She's heard "I didn't know the library did all this! You need to advertise more!" Tiller said she's trying to get the word out by contacting schools about upcoming events and publicizing the meeting schedule on the library's Web site. She'd like to attract more teens to the regular Teen Advisory Group meetings that are held to help plan the events for the next season. Planning for the summer programs will be done at the TAG meetings held in March and April.
Tiller said so far she hasn't had as many come to the meetings as she'd like, but said those teens who do come have good suggestions.
"The boys always say, "Food and more food! Order lots of pizza!" said Tiller, who said food is always a popular element in teen programs. The next teen event is "Ice Cream Dream," which will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Jan. 18 at the library. Kids will have a chance to design their own ice cream confections to eat.
At one recent TAG meeting, some of the girls suggested a pre-prom fashion show.
Tiller said some of the suggestions are a bit grander than the library can afford, so she sometimes tries to modify them and keep to the spirit of the suggestion. There's already a bridal show going on in town that is pretty much the same thing as the prom fashion show, so Tiller is trying to find representatives from local stores who are up on the latest fashion trends to give a presentation in February.
Tiller is also planning to make gaming a regular event and to host a movie night every month on a regular basis.
Being a librarian is a long way from being a bank teller or a loan officer, but Tiller said she wouldn't have it any other way.
(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)