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Libraries are not lame: Millennial librarian explains career choice

What's the state of our local libraries, and what does it take to work for one?

ST PAUL, Minn. — Whoever said libraries are lame was wrong. 

Or maybe, they just haven't been to one in a while. 

Tasha Nins is a librarian at Arlington Hills Public Library, which shares a building with a community center.

As a millennial working in the era of e-books, Nins manages to make the old-school concept of libraries look cool.

"We are in the youngest neighborhood in St. Paul so we have a very young crowd," Nins said.

Growing up, you had to "keep it down" at the library, but Nins says there is no need to whisper where she works.

"I'm not a quiet librarian," she said. "I'm not a quiet person."

Then again, each library has its own vibe. 

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"The Central Library downtown has the most books and it has the most people coming in to do intensive research so that's going to be a little bit quieter," Nins said.

While Arlington Hills has its own quiet areas for study, interactive areas are a main selling point. The library features a children's area with games and a large, colorful dollhouse. In the main part of the library, people can vote on community issues by placing stickers on a poster.

Downstairs, Createch, a studio for teens, is packed with activities, including a recording studio and a 3D laser printer.

"We've got the tech," Nins said. "We have the resources."

Now you know. Libraries are not lame. But what about working for one?

"Part of being a good librarian is getting out from behind the desk and engaging with people," Nins said.

Credit: KARE
Tasha Nins at Arlington Hills Public Library

St. Kate's taught her that. The university says its master's degree program is the only one in Minnesota accredited by the American Library Association. 

For Nins, that program led to a job offer the day she graduated. However, she says the field can be competitive, depending on the library's location.

Now on her second job, Nins runs all of the Createch studios in the city. 

"If you want to run a branch, or you want to do more of the upper-level kind of stuff in libraries, yeah, getting a master's degree is part of that," she said.

MCTC also has a library program. It's important to note that a master's degree isn't required for all jobs or roles at the library, such as scanning books, cataloging and volunteering. 

And in 2019, Nins says you don't need to "look like a librarian."

"Something that is also good to keep in mind about libraries is that they're best when they're reflective of their communities," she said. "Having a diverse workforce helps libraries grow as well."

Four libraries are closed in Hennepin County, but it's not due to a lack of funding. Rather, Eden Prairie Library, Hosmer Library, Oxboro Library and Southeast Library are temporarily closed for renovation.

Since 2005, Ramsey County has built four new libraries. The newest, Shoreview Library, opened as recently as 2017.

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