Adventures in reading: Austin Public Library welcomes new Youth Services librarian

Published 4:52 pm Tuesday, August 23, 2022

She may have taken the scenic route, but Salie Olson still made it to Austin.

Olson is the Austin Public Library’s new Children’s Services Librarian, starting the new position on June 20 after working at the Stewartville Public Library for around eight months.

Olson’s first notion that she wanted to maybe work in a library came when she was just a girl, the first steps on a self admittingly long trek into the profession.

“When I was about five I looked in the children’s library and thought, ‘I want to do that someday,” Olson said, while sitting in the department she now runs in Austin. 

However, her path initially took her to a working colonial farm in Maryland, giving tours. While she certainly enjoyed the time providing the education for kids, it also served as a reminder to that first peak within a children’s library.

“I really liked it and liked the fact that these kids were learning and growing,” Olson said. “Then it reminded me … ‘at one point you wanted to be a librarian.’ That made me decide to go back to school and get my degree and here I am.”

Olson received her degree from St. Kate’s University in the Twin Cities, earning a masters degree. She also has a school pathway license in K-12 teaching.

Both the masters and the teaching license are important factors when working in a library, she said.

“It doesn’t seem like you would necessarily need a masters degree, but you really do need that background to understand your collection,” Olson said.

Olson said she was immediately impressed with the children’s collection at Austin Public Library, which includes a wide variety of things for children including an assortment of graphic novels, which Olson said is still finding its upswing among youth readers.

At the same time, Olson said she is looking to put her own fingerprint on Children’s Services. She has already added a sensory path for children as well as book bundles and easy readers.

“I’m up for anything,” Olson said. “This is my first youth librarian (job). I’m learning and growing with everybody else. I just want to get kids involved.”

To that end, Olson said she is hoping to get newer programming for teens and tween again with a hope to develop a return of both teen and tween advisory boards.

She would also like to grow the collection of books in other languages for non-English speakers.

“If you’re not a native language speaker, still come in. We’ll try and find something for you,” Olson said.

Encapsulating it all, however, is Olson’s desire to create a thriving space for children. An area that has every option possible open to them.

“It’s a safe space for kids,” Olson said. “Probably one of the last places in the US where you don’t have to come in with the expectation that you are paying for something. Kids can come in, anyone can come in, read and play games.”

Olson said her short time in Austin has been smooth and welcoming and she hopes to continue that trend forward.

“I’m new so if people do have suggestions, let me know,” she said. “I don’t know everything. I’m learning and growing with everybody. Everybody here has been so supportive. I’m really happy I’m here.”