Meet Indiana's Diverse Library Staff  

The makeup of library staff in Indiana is a rich tapestry of people with a wide variety of backgrounds, identities, and walks of life. The Indiana Library Federation (ILF) is proud to celebrate their stories and the ways that our diverse library staff helps make a difference in communities across the state. 

Janet Spaulding (She/Her)
Tapestry Interview

What library do you work at? 

I work at the Indianapolis Public Library.

What's your position and how long have you been there? 

I have had the privilege of serving as the children’s collection development librarian for the past 14 years.

I select the books for ages 0-13 in print, audio, and e-formats. In addition, I work with the staff at all locations on the overall maintenance of the collection. I spend time reading about what is new in children’s literature and enjoy sharing with staff about what I am learning through emails and presentations. I also enjoy the opportunities I have to learn about the different communities we serve and to work on providing resources that support their needs.

It is such an honor to be able to serve our city’s youngest residents in this way. I love it when I am out and about town and I see kids totally engaged in a book that they checked out from the library.

Have you worked in other library positions or at other libraries? 

None aside from IndyPL in the US. I have worked at other library institutions in Nigeria. 

Tell us about your journey that led you to your job in a library. 

I had the intention of becoming a medical doctor and never thought of being a librarian. The industrial actions and multiple closure of higher institutions led me to start as a cleaner at my state library. I later re-converted to a clerical position upon examination of my credentials and arguments. I was encouraged by one student on industrial training in my library to apply an associate degree in a near university since my earlier admission have been cancelled by the strike. The joy of connecting and helping people find information keep encouraging me to obtain more degrees.

With the degree, and in the same library I started as a cleaner, I rose to the level of managing the cataloguing and classification section within 12 years.

I and my family relocated to US due to certain persecution. After months of arrival, I saw a volunteer position with the library, I applied and got the position to assist with digital and acquisition projects. One of the digital projects was tagging the Indianapolis Historical Landscapes. While the professional education, skills and experience I had been quite relevant, I got drawn to the advanced technology tools, institution settings and specializations. My LIS education which includes Associate Degree in Librarianship, Bachelor Degree in library and Archival Information and a Master in Information Science from Nigeria focused and encompasses academic, public, school, and read special library specializations. 

Have you worked in other library positions or at other libraries?

I have worked at IndyPL for 26 years, starting as a page and summer reading clerk while working on my undergraduate and library science degrees. I then worked in circulation before becoming a children’s librarian for 8 years, including 3 years as a supervising librarian. 

 Tell us about your journey that led you to your job in a library?

As a lifelong resident of Indianapolis, I can’t remember a time when the public library was not a part of my life. I have many happy memories of wandering through the stacks looking at books and sitting on the floor with books all around me as I tried to decide which ones to check out. In fact, one of the librarians I first knew at my childhood branch would later be one of my professors in library school! And I have had the joy of calling several of the librarians that I first met when I was in middle school as colleagues.

I first started working for the library when I was looking for a summer job after my first year of university. I kept coming back, working as a page and then as a clerk with the summer reading program. When it was time to decide what to do after graduating with my undergraduate degree, going to library school seemed like the natural next step.

I spent 8 years working as a public services librarian and a supervising librarian. I was mentored by some amazing staff members as I grew into my role as a librarian.  Several years into my career as a children’s librarian, I went back to school at Christian Theological Seminary to earn a degree in Theological Studies with an idea of becoming a theological librarian. Instead, I became the children’s collection development librarian. While I never became a theological librarian, working on this degree taught me skills that I use in my current position, such as the importance of continuing to challenge myself in how I understand the community and world around me. It leads me to continue to stretch my understanding of how the collection and other resources the library offers can support their needs and to keep thinking of new ways that our collection can reach our community.

What new and interesting things are happening at your library?

IndyPL opened the new Fort Ben branch in late 2023. We are looking forward to the grand opening of the new Glendale branch this spring. It is exciting to see members of the community using the new spaces and exploring all that the library has to offer. I love seeing adults sharing reading time with their children.  We are also in the process of launching a small braille collection as part of the children’s collection. I am excited that we are able to offer a new way for some library users to connect with the library and to share in the joy of reading with their children at the library.

What are your favorite sections of your library?

I read widely in all areas of the children’s collection, both for my own enjoyment and professionally. I also enjoy reading memoirs, historical fiction, theology, and religious history and sociology.

Do you have favorite library resources or materials? (and tell a bit about each for folks who might be new to those resources or materials)

As a library user myself, being able to access through the library is amazing.  Once I look up a census, I can lose track of time as I follow the trail of family members from census to census and glean bits of information that lead me to birth certificates, marriage records, immigration records and more.  I’ve learned a lot about my ancestors over the last 200 years!

Are there other libraries you love to visit?

I enjoy seeing other Carnegie libraries. We are fortunate to have two Carnegie libraries in the IndyPL system, both of which have very different personalities to serve the neighborhoods they are located in. I am always fascinated to see how other library systems have reimagined their Carnegie libraries to offer contemporary services and to take these historic buildings into the future.

Are you a person who visits libraries when you're in a new place? If so, do you have any stories?

I find it interesting to visit libraries when I am traveling internationally. One of the most memorable libraries for me was in Stratford-upon-Avon. From the outside, the façade comes straight out of Shakespeare’s time, but as soon as you step inside, you are welcomed into a bright, contemporary space. Such a transformation! From a historical perspective, my favorite library is the Bodleian at Oxford University.

Do you enjoy browsing in Little Free Libraries? Any unique finds?

I enjoy browsing to see what others are sharing (the downside of reading so much is that I have often already read most of what is available!). I keep a stack of books that I have finished specifically to be able to add a title or two to Little Free Libraries when I see them.

What’s your superpower at your library?

Being able to connect with our youngest library users. Three and four-year-olds know what they like! Getting down on the floor and talking with young kids about what they are reading, asking for their input on what is important for the collection, and whether they think it is something lots of kids would like to read helps to get them invested in their library and can be a part of their journey to become lifelong readers.

Anything else you'd like to share?

As someone who is deaf/hard of hearing, I bring this perspective to the library. The library has a unique opportunity to be a resource to members of the community who are sometimes overlooked or marginalized. It is important to me that we are striving to become a space that is welcoming for all and continue to rethink what it means to be the library and how we serve our community.

The End