Meet Beth Bozzo: Lansing Library’s new Head of Youth and Teen Services

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A familiar face at the Lansing Library, Beth Bozzo is excited to take on the new role

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (December 1, 2020) – Beth Bozzo has been working at the Lansing Public Library for a total of five years. She’s filled many roles throughout the building in her time there, most recently as Outreach Coordinator. Now, Bozzo will tackle a new challenge as the Head of Youth and Teen Services.

Lansing Library
Beth Bozzo is the new Head of Youth and Teen Services at the Lansing Public Library. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Lansing Library Responsibilities

Bozzo replaces Emily Laidley, who is moving to Wisconsin. Library Director Debbie Albrecht is looking for Bozzo to continue the work Laidley has done at the library. “Debbie saw in me, I guess, a lot of institutional knowledge and the ability to take over as a department head and pick up where Emily has left off,” Bozzo said.

Bozzo sees her new responsibilities as falling under what she calls a “two-part umbrella.” She says her first duty, like all library staff, is to serve the community of Lansing. “We are here to make sure that we are meeting whatever needs we can,” she said. Her second overall duty is to make sure her staff is supported so they can do their jobs well.

As part of her new position, Bozzo will order new books for the Youth and Teen section of the library, manage the scheduling of events in her department, make sure her staff is receiving the necessary ongoing education, and make sure programming is “staying fresh and active.”

Meeting needs in a year of change

Welcoming a new Head of Youth and Teen Services is one of many changes the Lansing Library has had to make this year, as the traditional library schedule and operation have been disrupted by both construction in the library basement and the COVID-19 pandemic. Bozzo said about 60% of the physical library collection from downstairs has been brought up to the top level of the library—some of which is stored in creative places like the bottom shelves of book stacks that are usually empty.

Lansing Library
Beth Bozzo examines some of the Young Adult books placed in the bottom shelf of the upstairs stacks. Normally the books would be found downstairs, but the construction in the library’s basement has forced librarians to find creative ways to make the books available. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Bozzo said that although the Lansing Library has prioritized virtual programming during the pandemic, she also wants to prioritize options that pull kids away from their screens. “We’re seeing, across the board, a lot of Zoom fatigue. Kids are on the computer all day for school. Families are on computers all day for work, and a lot of them are looking for different ways to stay engaged,” she said.

To meet this need, the Library has introduced some “grab-and-go” activities. Bozzo says over 100 STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) kits were picked up in November. The kits change from month to month. November’s gave young users the supplies needed to witness a bean start to grow into a plant.

Lansing Library
November’s STEAM kit entailed participants bringing home a bean and following instructions to make a new plant grow while monitoring its progress. The kits were available near the front door of the library. A new kit is available every month. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Lansing Library—a community center

Bozzo has six kids, ages 3–19, which helps her keep her ear to the ground when it comes to what materials and activities Lansing youth might be interested in. Bozzo grew up in Lansing and although she currently lives in Hammond, she said, “everything I do is in Lansing.”

“I’m so excited to pick up where Emily has left off … and to continue moving forward so that we can better serve this amazing community that we’re a part of,” Bozzo said. “Libraries more and more are not about the books—that’s still a big part of it—but libraries more and more are becoming centers of community, we are becoming a community building. … We are a center of information and resources. We so want to be able to help people connect to the things that they need.”

The Lansing Public Library is located at 2750 Indiana Avenue. As of this writing, only Lansing residents are being allowed access to the Library. Masks and social distancing are required.

The Lansing Public Library is located at 2750 Indiana Avenue in Lansing, Illinois. (Photo: Jennifer Yos)

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