Lincoln-Way West media center evolves under innovative librarian
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lincoln-Way West Librarian Jennifer Bromann-Bender’s career has developed through her experience as a public librarian, an author, and a high school librarian. As the definition of libraries has quickly evolved over the past few decades, librarians everywhere have learned to adapt with new technology, tools, and activities.

In 2002, after six years of employment with Prairie Trails Public Library, Jennifer Bromann-Bender joined Lincoln-Way Central. She made the move to Lincoln-Way West when the school opened in 2009. Before Lincoln-Way, Bromann-Bender had authored interactive story books to get her young audience actively involved in story time—a practice that has proved to be valuable at the high school level as well. “When I worked for the public library, I noticed some kids had difficulty paying attention to the stories unless I involved them in the story. So I tried to make every book interactive. Now, the childcare classes come in to learn how to do this with their young students,” says Bromann-Bender.

Bromann-Bender also utilizes her expertise in book talks to engage high schoolers in literature. “It’s really exciting to talk to the students about books and see them find something that excites them. It’s great when something that you recommended gets them excited—especially for kids who have never spent much time reading.”

Bromann-Bender says that keeping the attention of students is easier when “you put a unique little twist on everything.” She says, “I try to come up with different ways to grab the students’ attention by hosting book talks where I relate books to current events in the news or other stories…When the first article I wrote about book talking was published, the editor of a series saw the article and asked me to write a whole book about it.” Since then, Bromann-Bender has written eleven articles and five books for Librarians. Her books include "Booktalking that works," "More Booktalking that works," "Storytime Action," "More Storytime Action," and "Booktalking Nonfiction."

Between writing articles, writing books, and presenting at conferences for fellow librarians, Bromann-Bender has also managed to liven the atmosphere in her own library. The Makerspace at Lincoln-Way West was established in 2015 and has gained popularity as more activities have become available. At the start of this October, 50 students attended a Makerspace initiative to learn how to knit. This is one of many crafting opportunities offered throughout the year. “We’d been talking about a Makerspace for a few years. I wanted to do something in the craft room to get students interested. We use donated material to teach skills that can be useful in their future. We also expanded to introduce some technology such as a 3D printer and Makey Makey circuit kit, and hope to add more this year.”

Additionally, every Friday morning, Bromann-Bender hosts “Music in the Library” where students perform for their classmates before school. “We started last year, and this year, we are booked every Friday through the first semester with a different student each week. It provides an opportunity for students who write songs or perform solo or in a band to share their talents with others and to get experience performing in front of an audience.”

As the definition of libraries has evolved, Bromann-Bender has used her expertise to foster the growth of Lincoln-Way students. By constantly researching ways to improve her library space and expand her own knowledge, Bromann-Bender has made the library into so much more than “a quiet place to read.”