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Librarian recognized for work with youth

Alison Yntema, a librarian with the Oshawa Public Libraries, is the recipient of the Ontario Public Library Association’s 2019 children’s or Youth Services Librarian of the Year Award.

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

An Oshawa librarian is humbled to receive the Children’s or Youth Services Librarian of the Year Award.

Alison Yntema, a community engagement and programming librarian, received the award from the Ontario Public Library Association (OPLA).

The OPLA selects the recipient after they are nominated by their colleagues.

The award is given to a librarian who has made a positive impact on children and youth services.

The nominees must be a member of the OPLA, and must also be in good standing.

They need to have an active involvement in the public library profession, enhanced service to children and youth in their local branch, advocate for service to children and youth,  model children’s and youth services as a rewarding career, and be a positive and innovative role model to colleagues and their community.

Yntema spends 15 or more hours every week at the service desk, including nights and weekends, leads story time at local day care centres including the Boys and Girls Club, shelters, and summer camps, has performed  outreach at schools focusing on STEM, online resource training, and orientation to the library, and much more.

“It’s a great honour [to receive the award],” says Yntema. “I feel very humbled it, and I’m very grateful to the library for nominating me.”

As a community engagement librarian, Yntema says her job is to bring the library to children.

“I’m involved with pretty much any services that involve children, youth, and families,” she explains. “There are four community engagement librarians for the Oshawa Public Library, and we each have different tasks, and that’s the area that I concentrate on.”

While her work is primarily with children, Yntema says she is not the children’s librarian, but she used to be.

“Then the rules changed, and there was a focus on libraries trying to get out more. Rather than trying to get people to come in, we were bringing the library out,” she explains.

She says they are trying to promote the library, which she believes is a difficult task at times.

“So many people in Oshawa don’t really know what’s going on at the library, and there’s a lot of fun stuff, it’s not just books,” she says with a chuckle.

Yntema says the story of how she became a librarian is different from many of her colleagues.

“This is actually a second career for me,” she says. “I’m a professional librarian, and to be a professional librarian, you need a masters degree. So, I actually have a bachelor’s of science, and was in an alternate career, and then I was looking for something different to do… and decided since I have a degree, I was going to do my masters in library science.”

She got her masters when she was 40-years-old, so the career still feels new to her.

“Maybe it’s an example to anyone else out there trying to do something new – it can be done,” she says.