Member Spotlight - Jamie JonesMay 30, 2022
This week's member spotlight is on Jamie Jones, manager of the Peoria Public Library's North Branch. Jamie chaired the ILA Awards Committee in 2020 and served on the ILA Conference Program Committee in 2021. We asked Jamie to tell us a little bit about herself and answer a few professional and amusing questions. Continue reading to find out more about Jamie.
A little background on Jamie
I grew up in Henry, IL, a very small town on the Illinois River. Everything was within walking distance in Henry, including the little public library. Some of my favorite childhood memories are summer days spent swimming in the pool, then trekking across the street to the library to fill up a bag of books. I wonder now how the librarian felt about me and my siblings or friends visiting in wet clothes! I never felt anything less than kindness and welcome, though.
I attended Bradley University where I graduated with a BA in English, then went straight into my MLIS studies at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. While finishing up my MLIS, I started working at the Illinois Central College’s Downtown Campus Library, and while I really enjoyed the work, I realized I wanted to be in public libraries, where I could encounter a more diverse range of people and information needs. An opportunity arose to work at Peoria Public Library in 2012, and I’ve been here ever since. I started in the Reference Department, then moved to branch manager of McClure Branch (a tiny, historical branch in the heart of the city), and finally the North Branch in December 2019. Obviously, I love books, and also movies, cooking, spending time outdoors, and most importantly, time with my young children.
I am so proud to be raising two book nerds: my son is a huge fan of Sandra Boynton and Eric Litwin, and my daughter is starting to discover Jan Brett (one of my favorites as a child)! I just can’t wait until they’re old enough for me to start reading them Harry Potter. My husband may not share my enthusiasm…he reads strictly nonfiction.
How did you get into libraries?
As an undergraduate English major, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life! I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher like many of my fellows, though I have great respect for that profession; I just couldn’t fathom standing in front of a class every day (having a general dislike for public speaking), not to mention teaching a standardized curriculum. Then it occurred to me – probably during one of the innumerable hours I spent in the university library – that working in a library would allow me to support education without being a traditional classroom educator, and that libraries are places where people can learn anything they want! I wanted to help promote that “freestyle” type of lifelong learning in my community.
Best advice you've received since starting your career in libraries?
Communicate and collaborate with your colleagues and other community groups because there is almost certainly someone out there trying to achieve the same goal you are. The more you get to know and share ideas with others, the better off we all are.
Any advice to newcomers working in libraries?
Get involved, whether it be with ILA, your local library system, or what have you. I know it might seem intimidating at first, but it will help you and the library profession as a whole evolve and grow.
When and why did you become a member of ILA?
I joined ILA as an MLIS student on the advice of a (or probably more than one) professor.
How has being a member of ILA helped you professionally?
Networking and professional development opportunities!
What is your proudest professional achievement to date?
That’s tough, not least because I’m not one to toot my own horn. I’m proud of a lot that I’ve done, including being chosen for this ILA Member Spotlight, and for chairing ILA’s Awards Committee and helping it pull off it’s first ever virtual awards ceremony. However, I am probably most proud of attaining my current position as branch manager of Peoria Public Library’s busiest branch.
Hardcover, paperback, e-reader, audiobook or all?
All, but I’m especially fond of audiobooks. I find it hard to sit still these days (no time with two little ones!), and audiobooks allow me to continue reading, even if I’m doing the dishes, laundry, or what have you.
Too many to choose! And it depends on my mood. I’ll always love Jane Austen for classics (so witty and wonderful), but contemporary is trickier. Liane Moriarty and Ruth Ware keep me enthralled, Moriarty with her excellent characters and Ware with her ability to keep me racked with suspense and doubt. Andy Weir deserves an honorable mention, because he creates unique plots, and his characters and writing style make me laugh.
If you were stuck on a deserted island, what five books would you bring with you to pass the time until being rescued?
A survival guide, because goodness knows I’d probably have trouble making it until rescue arrives! Otherwise, I’d want to have something comforting and engrossing: a Jane Austen collection and maybe Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (if I had to choose one!). James Joyce’s Ulysses because I’ve never finished it, and I’d finally have the time (though I’d have to have an annotated copy because I’d go mad trying to read it without one)! Last one might have to be Andy Weir’s The Martian because if Mark can survive life on Mars until his crew can come back for him, I think I could make it on an island!
Cat or Dog?
Favorite film, podcast, or television show?
Oh there are so many great movies! Not counting adaptations of my favorite books, I’d have to say Harvey for heartwarming or The Boondock Saints for action. Television shows might be even harder because I don’t get around to watching many! Will always have a nostalgic spot for Friends and The Golden Girls (Betty White ) in the line-up, the BBC Sherlock is a solid favorite, and I’m also really enjoying Workin’ Moms on Netflix.