Meet Some of the Library’s Outstanding Workers During National Library Week

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Libraries across the United States celebrate National Library Week from April 7 - 13. The theme for this year’s event, sponsored by the American Library Association, is “Ready, Set, Library!”

One of the week’s goals is for patrons to discover the unexpected things that libraries offer – which starts with a free Library card (see: Thirty Things To Do (Just for Starters) With Your Library Card).

Here are a few suggestions, which you’ll see featured on the Library’s streetcar shelter near 10th and Main:

  • Join a Book Group.
  • Stream eBooks, audiobooks, music and movies.
  • Apply for a passport.
  • Play New York Times games for free.

Topics of focus during National Library Week include supporting the right to read, affirming participation in 2024 elections, meeting patrons where they are through outreach – and recognizing the valuable contributions of library workers.

This year, the Kansas City Public Library recognizes outstanding staff members who work behind the scenes. Learn more about what they do and why:

woman smiling holding book

Facilities specialist Jackie Brown has worked at the Library for 35 years and begins each day walking the floor. Once a week, she also winds all the grandfather clocks in Central.

“I want to make sure that all our patrons when they come in have a great experience, they come into a clean facility where they feel welcome,” Brown says. “And I think my role ensures that.”

As a single mother, Brown says the job provided a unique opportunity. “My children were raised in the Library,” she says. “And in turn, they are avid readers, they have a love and a passion for books."

Brown says she’s proud that the Library looks ahead to the future, embracing “new and innovative technology.”

Favorite book? The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah.

man holding book

Marshall Cox is the Library’s desktop support administrator. He often stops at Mildred’s (a go-to for many Central Library staffers) first thing in the morning; then he heads to his desk, checks in with his team and starts “building out a to-do list of what his day looks like.”

“It’s cool to see a line of people at 9 a.m., just like ready to come in and hang out at the Library,” Cox says. “There’s a myriad of things that go on at the Library.”

It’s the kind of job, he says, where he still thinks about it at home: “How can we make it easier for people to log in to computers?"

“The thing that I value the most about being here at the Library,” Cox says, “is that there isn’t a person who works here, there isn’t a department whose goal isn’t to help people.”

Favorite book? The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

person smiling in front of book shelves holding book

Nash High, materials receiving specialist in the Collections Department, says their role is one you could describe as “the most fun job” in the Library.

“Every new book and CD and DVD gets shipped here,” High says, “and I’m the one who gets to open it up.”

Tapping connections to the Kansas City zine community, they helped launch the Library’s zine collection. More than 100 zines are now available for check-out near Central Library’s Film Vault, and patrons can also make their own.

“It makes me feel good to be a part of an organization that’s so welcoming, inclusive, and diverse,” High says, “And I feel like the Library does that and that’s our goal.”

Favorite book? Shubeik Lubeik by Deena Mohamed.

woman smiling while holding picture book

Nalita McHenry is the children’s librarian at the Bluford Branch. The location, on the city’s east side, is known for its strong collection of African American literature – and high foot traffic.

“Something that is unique about Bluford is probably the amount of people that we see,” she says. “There are people that are older, people that are younger, and they all want to be a part of the Library and the community.”

In her role, McHenry creates book displays and organizes programming for children, tweens, and families. She says she’s often looking for innovative ways to connect and “new ways to introduce stories and books to kids to get them excited about reading.”

Favorite book? Parker Looks Up by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry.

woman smiling while holding picture book

Senior Library assistant Lilia Sandoval is based at the North-East Branch. This location offers materials in English, as well as books, magazines, fotonovelas, CDs, and DVDs in Spanish and other languages.

“Every day is a different day at the Library,” Sandoval says. “Sometimes we help people sign up for Library cards or sometimes we even help people find jobs.”

Her connection to the Library started at an early age. “I was five years old when I first remember walking into the Library,” she says. “They had a lot of resources and books so I could learn English because I could only learn Spanish at home.”

Sandoval’s favorite thing about working at the Library is “being able to help anyone, to help as much as I can. That means a lot to me.”

Favorite book? Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica.

If you’d like to support the Kansas City Public Library, here’s how to donate.

Enjoy a National Library Week Reading List