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Getting to Know The Brainerd Memorial Library: A Conversation with the Youth/Teen Librarian, Kristen Carpentier

By Meghan Peterson, Ph.D.

(Feb. 13, 2020) — Located at 920 Saybrook Road (Rt. 154) in Haddam, the Brainerd Memorial Library provides a variety of adult, adolescent, family, and children’s literary resources, educational programming, and cultural arts events. As such, it serves as a dynamic hub for people to learn, gather and experience community together.

We recently contacted Kristen Carpentier, Teen Services Coordinator and overseer of Technical Instruction at Brainerd Memorial Library here in Haddam, to speak more about the role BML plays in the lives of Haddam (as well as surrounding area) residents and library patrons.

How did you come to call Haddam Brainerd Memorial Library your home?

Carpentier: After making the switch to the Library Science field and graduating with my Bachelor’s Degree in 2014, I was looking for a position in a library that matched my existing skill set, but where I could also grow within the profession. BML had an opening, and it turned out to be the perfect fit.

What is your background? Please provide a bit of biographical as well as professional information.

Carpentier: I grew up in Clinton, graduating from The Morgan School in 2005. Throughout high school I worked as an assistant teacher at Back Stage Dance Center in Killingworth, where I began working with children of various ages and realized I had a talent for working with kids. In 2011 I completed my Associate’s Degree and had a difficult decision to make- what career path best suits my experience and interests? I’ve always loved books, really reading in general, and I realized I could mix my experience and interests together, while at the same time creating a sanctuary for creativity, safety and learning.

How do you see your role not only at the library but in the community?

Carpentier: My role, as I see it, is to be an advocate for the teens of our community, and as such I work to be able to provide that sanctuary for creativity, safety and learning I spoke about earlier. With the help of local teens, (shout out to my awesome Teen Advisory Board!) I’m able to make the Teen Lounge exactly what they want and need.

What are some of your favorite aspects of your job?

Carpentier: A really fun part of my job is developing the YA collection, and getting to read all the new books that come in before they hit the shelves, but I’d be lying if I said that was my favorite, or the most rewarding part of my job. My favorite part of being the Teen Services Coordinator is that I get to meet some really awesome tweens and teens in the community. Do you know how much talent and kindness exists within the youth of our community? They volunteer their time to make the community a better place; many have gone way beyond the required amount needed for graduation before they’re even Sophomores. They’re incredibly talented artists who share their talents to make the Teen Lounge a beautiful place, and with younger children during events in the Children’s Library. They all really make my job easy and allow me to focus on the good stuff- getting to know them and their needs.

What are some goals/objectives/vision(s) you have for the library Teen/Young Adult department?

Carpentier: I would love for the Young Adult department to become a community hub for tweens and teens. I’ve been working on some new programming for this year- keep an eye out for a new club for our artistically inclined teens, as well as a new monthly program centered on the culinary arts. We will definitely be having more college planning workshops for both parents and teens, as well as a new kind of book club. As we grow, I’d love to see more teens spend some time in our space!

We’re in a unique position with the coming renovation of the Teen Lounge that we will be able to update the space to accommodate the needs and wants of our local teens. I’m hoping in the next year or two to have laptops and/or iPads available just for teens to do homework or to use for downtime after school.

Any other thoughts to share with residents, patrons?

Carpentier: The Teen Advisory Board meets every month during the school year, and always accepts new members. Each meeting counts as volunteer hours for school. Voice your ideas, share your opinions and have a part in the ever evolving Teen Lounge! Dates and times are listed on our website, or stop in and see me any time!

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