Clutching a teddy bear, Mary Flamino quickly got to work. The Youth Services Manager at the Teton County Library posed the teddy bear and a cadre of other stuffed animals so it looked like they were “raiding” the staff refrigerator as her colleague snapped a few photos. Next, she gathered all the stuffed animals together and pretended to read them a story for another quick photo session.
She was doing this as part of the library’s stuffed animal sleepover, where kids leave their plush friends at the library overnight. By the time they pick them up in the morning, the animals have had all sorts of adventures—with photographic evidence to boot.
This type of creativity is something Flamino uses daily in her work as she coordinates after-school programming for kids. It’s not all reading, though. Kids can work on crafts, origami, puppets, Legos, Tinker Toys, snap circuits, and even have fun with glitter tattoos. Some days are science and engineering days while others are for movies.
“I love working with kids and hearing what they have to say,” she says. “We’re a safe space for kids to come.”
Flamino has worked at the library for four years, officially becoming youth services manager in August after several years as youth services librarian. Before becoming a librarian, she worked at an actuarial consulting firm, but she opted to leave that field in order to embrace her love of libraries.
“You work 40 hours a week, and you should love the place you’re in,” she says. “I love the physical space of libraries and the freedom of information.”
Flamino earned her graduate degree in library science through an online program offered by San Jose State University in California. She completed her degree while she was living in Jackson, and she used the Teton County Library as her model for school exercises, studying the library, its user population, and the local community.
She uses her knowledge of the community and its kids to help select the best books and media to add to the library’s collection. While she reads industry publications to stay on top of new happenings in children’s literature, her favorite way to learn about kids’ books is simply by reading them. She averages 15-20 juvenile fiction books each year.
“I spend most of my free time reading kids’ books,” she says. “I spend more time reading kids’ books than adult books. I’ve always loved a good story.”
Her love of reading and enthusiasm for kids makes her feel like she’s in just the right place, and every day at the library is an adventure.
“I feel like I’m in the right role for who I am,” she says.