Meet Jennifer Wharton, Youth Services Librarian

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Meet Jennifer Wharton, Youth Services Librarian on

Welcome back to The Library Adventure’s series of monthly interviews with library professionals. This month, our interviewee is Jennifer Wharton. Jennifer is Youth Services Librarian at the Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin and writer of  the Jean Little Library blog. I asked Jennifer about her library, its patrons, and her path to librarianship. Here is our exchange.

Meet Jennifer Wharton, Youth Services Librarian

Jennifer Wharton

The Library Adventure: Please give a brief description of your current position.

Jennifer: I am the head of the youth services department (which is basically me, a couple teen aides to shelve, and a colleague from the school district). I am responsible for programming, collection development, marketing, reference, and reader’s advisory for ages 0-18.

TLA: Whom does your library serve?

Jennifer: In theory we serve Elkhorn and the surrounding townships (bringing our service population up to around 23,000). In practice, anyone with a Wisconsin address can get a library card. We get quite a few families from other towns, up to 30 minutes away, especially in summer when some of them are overrun with summer visitors. Elkhorn itself has a lot of families with young children and a lot of seniors, so our demographics hit high at both ends of the spectrum. We don’t really serve teens much. Sad but true.

TLA: What is unique about your library and/or its collection?

Jennifer: After several building projects we are the largest library in the county and are now 114 years old! In 2012 my department came in with the highest number of programs and attendance in the entire consortium, including larger city libraries, and 3rd highest in children’s circulation. I’m eagerly looking forward to this year’s annual report to see how we measured up in 2013.

TLA: Describe your path to librarianship.

Jennifer: I started doing reader’s advisory and cataloging my personal library when I was about 12, so no big surprises here (-:) I am actually from Austin, Texas, but got my masters at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign (Betsy Hearne talked me into applying there) and just moved up a little farther north. Living in a small town was an adjustment, but I always wanted to work in a small library with a variety of things to do. One thing I can say – I am never bored!

Meet Jennifer Wharton, Youth Services Librarian

Jennifer’s story room

TLA: What is one thing you wish library users knew?

Jennifer: I wish our patrons in particular knew that we are really relaxed about programs – and that they’re free! We don’t do registration or enforce age limits (except for the occasional teen program) and my popular after school clubs are drop-in, any time, for all ages. I tell people this constantly, but I can never quite reach everybody – and I’m not sure they believe me when I tell them their toddler will have a blast at Messy Art Club and is as welcome as their school-age child!

TLA: Give a quick plug for a favorite library resource.

Jennifer: Probably the library resource I use the most is MCPL’s Juvenile Series and Sequels database . I created an in-house series database (it’s color-coded! A thing of beauty!) but this is still my go-to source.

Special thanks to Jennifer for joining us here at The Library Adventure! If you work in a library and would like to be interviewed for a future post, please fill out our interest form. Don’t forget to check back next month to meet another librarian.

About Katie Fitzgerald

Katie Fitzgerald holds degrees in English and library science, and has worked in small town and big city libraries, serving both children and teens. You can read her book reviews and posts about story time, picture books, and early literacy at Story Time Secrets. Also follow her blog on Facebook for kidlit quotations, story time suggestions, and interesting links.


  1. Librarians always have my respect and admiration. They’ve been among the most helpful people I’ve ever met. I believe it’s in their DNA.

    I’m impressed that your library is 114 year old and your children’s circulation rank. That’s impressive.

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