Karissa Fast: Children and Teen Librarian

Week of Takeover: November 25, 2018

Hi Library Land!

You might know me as the Ontarian Librarian, and you might remember me as one of the earliest takeovers. At the time I was a Children’s and Teen Librarian at a small library in Ontario.

I posted about the many programs I was running that week including: Tween Club, Pop Sockets, Stuffie Sleepover, Penguin Storytime, a daily afterschool STEM program, and a couple high school class visits.

I oversaw 200+ programs per year, purchased every teen and children’s collection, was on several committees (including Canada’s National Summer Reading Club Committee), and did regular reference desk time.


A lot has happened in the 11 months since my takeover. I got a dog. I discovered Leigh Bardugu. I rewatched Gilmore Girls again. But the main change is: I left that job! I learned so much in that position, both soft skills and hard skills, but I am very happy to have moved on to a larger public library system closer to home. My new position is as a librarian at a medium-sized branch, where I conduct outreach, storytimes, programs, and class visits. I am responsible for the displays at my branch, and do some collection management. And of course reference and reader’s advisory. My new coworkers are interesting, lovely people and I’m grateful to work with them.

It was difficult to adjust from having what seemed like hundreds of responsibilities to having far fewer, but I soon realized how beneficial it was to be able to devote more of my attention to every task. I blogged about “levelling up my story time” because I had more time and energy to focus on that service.  I joined my new library at an interesting and exciting time: we have a new CEO and have just wrapped up a progressive Strategic Plan.

One other major change I’ve made in my life is to become way more involved in my city. I joined my the Arts and Culture Committee, where I do things like review applications for funding and help plan events. I’m becoming more involved with my neighbourhood association, and have been attending many more worthwhile community events (political debates, softball team, Pride events, and concerts). Working close to home allows me more time, and having a fulfilling, non-stressful job means I have lots of energy to connect with my community. I also have more mental energy to read even more than I was before! A recent favourite is Albatross by Terry Fallis.

What I love most about my job (besides the 4 minute commute and the incredibly beautiful space) is, cheesily enough, helping people. My branch is a busy one and we get people of all types. Like most public librarians, I know the help I provide to my community has changed many lives. My other great library love is creative programming: running wacky events and trying new things. I have a lot of meaningful new initiatives on the horizon, and the excitement literally fills me with a buzzing joy. I think that means I found the right career.

Sharing my ideas and resources with other librarians will always be important to me. You can find my program plans at ontarianlibrarian.com, on twitter (@karissadawna), or on my Instagram (@ontarianlibrarian).

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