New Community Librarian Aims To Keep Youth Engaged

New Youth Services librarian Victoria Caine will be moderating an online gaming event for teens and tween. One of her goals after the pandemic is to keep youth interested in what the library has to offer. 

After a brief detour at a university library, Yankton Community Library’s (YCL) new youth librarian is happy to be working with kids again.

Victoria Caine, who took up the reins as Yankton’s Youth Services librarian at the beginning of the year, told the Press & Dakotan that she got her start in elementary school education before opting for a change.

“I decided I really wanted to go into library science,” she said. “I applied to the University of Arizona and was accepted to the Masters of Library and Information Science Program.”

While completing her degree, Caine worked at the university’s Home Sciences Library assisting students pursuing degrees in health care.

“At the same time, I was working the Arizona Research Library, where I was able to work with their microfilm collections, which was very interesting,” she said. “But, through that, I realized I really missed working with kids.”

When the time came, Caine said she chose a track that would put her on a path to youth librarian services.

“When I was looking for jobs, I found a posting in Yankton and I thought that the library was an interesting, fun place that I’d want to be,” she said. “Thankfully, I ended up here.”

These days, youth librarians are typically engaged in all youth programming at the library, not just curating collections of books.

“I would really love to establish a program for youth to become more proficient in coding and technical programming,” Caine said. “I think that a library can be a great place to offer coding instruction and coding programs. I think, looking at our workforce, there is such a need for us to have those skills in programming.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person programming at the library is currently suspended, but Caine said her goal is to have in-person coding for young children, tweens and teens once that is again possible.

“The big challenge right now is seeing how things will transition once we get out of the pandemic,” she said.

Other challenges include ways to keep youth engaged with the library. That issue is ongoing for many libraries, especially in youth services, Caine said.

“I would love to see us overcome that,” she said. “We have so many children in the younger grades and younger ages who are very involved in the library, but then it seems to kind of taper off once they get older.”

Caine said she plans to keep her eye on identifying new ways to keep children and youth involved with the library as they go through school, prepare for college, a profession and adult life. Some activities or programs could be the result of community partnerships as well, she noted.

“Libraries need to meet the needs of the community where the community’s at,” she said. “That’s very important to us. So it will be interesting to see how YCL will continue to do that once the pandemic is over.”

For now, most activities have moved online, she said.

“We are going to have a virtual game of ‘Among Us’ for tweens, and one for teens,” Caine said. “‘Among Us’ as a huge virtual game that’s kind of mafia style. You figure out who the imposter is.”

Caine will be moderating the events, which will take place in virtual private rooms.

“That way, parents can feel safe about their children participating in a virtual game,” she said. “Also, since it is a game recommended for kids 10 and above, we want the parents to register them.”

Caine said she is happy with her new role in Yankton, which she calls a town with lots of character.

“The library is a great resource for people in the community,” she said. “We are really working hard to offer a lot of different things during the pandemic.”

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For more information, visit the Yankton Community Library’s Facebook page. Call the library at 605-668-5275 to register for an event or speak with a librarian.

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