Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Q&A with Don Carpenter; Being around Books Is Where He Belongs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Q&A with Don Carpenter; Being around Books Is Where He Belongs

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland

With a title like teen librarian, Don Carpenter quips that he should get some time shaved off his 47 years. And maybe some more brown in his mostly white beard. The father of a 6-year-old girl has been coordinating teen programs and collections at the Mandarin branch library at 3330 Kori Road for 3 ' years.

A self-described military brat, Carpenter is a native of San Antonio, Texas, who lived in various cities with his mother and stepfather, who was in the Navy. Among other jobs, he has worked in business collections, as a copier salesman, a waiter/bartender and served in the Air Force.

Carpenter has a degree in business from Macon State College in Macon, Ga., and discovered Northeast Florida when his mother and stepfather retired to St. Augustine.

He is the subject of this week's Q&A.

Has teen programming changed over the years?

Yes, there is teen programming now. When I was a teen, a library was where you went to get books.

What are today's teens like?

Teens are just like regular people. If you find something that interests them, you give them the confidence to come. For example, we have a 12-year-old boy that's coming in, and he's going to talk about snakes.

What's some of the innovative programming you're doing?

I have an anime (Japanese movie and TV animation often with a science fiction theme) club. I'm also involved with Katie Monnin, a professor at the University of North Florida, in a large educational program involving UNF and the Jacksonville Public Library with graphic arts and comics. It's in the idea stage.

Are you into games and technology, or have you had to be because of the job?

When I was younger, I was an avid gamer, but it's dropped off since I got older. I'm not a regular reader of comics.

Is there something about you that would surprise people?

I lived all over the Southwest, and I traveled quite a bit as a young man. There were times in my life when I didn't live more than six months in one place. Before college, I was a full-time massage therapist who once had Ivana Trump as a client when she was on a book tour in Macon. She was very charming.

How challenging is it to come up with teen programming?

Well, you have to stay on top of things. I pay more attention to pop culture than I used to. It's kind of hard to get a handle on what's popular at the moment. If you try to pick something that time has passed, you won't be successful.

I know that some of your programs were a Teen Video club and a Writing-Inspired Teens Club. How successful were they?

The teen video programming did not go over well. Not only do you have to get teens here, but it has to be something that parents will bring them to. That was an experiment, and it's hard to judge what will bring kids to the library. …

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