March is Women’s History Month. Each week, we’ll profile an incredible woman whose work over the years has made Myrtle Avenue a great place.
Meet Janet Conton: A community Librarian Who Serves
Janet Conton has been the Neighborhood Library Supervisor at the Walt Whitman Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) for the past eight years. As lead librarian, her role is to identify the community’s needs and interests and create programs and deliver programs created by Brooklyn Public Library to addresses those areas. They may be literacy programs or bringing various forms of social engagement and entertainment to library users.
Such programs have included: story time, arts and crafts, book discussions, and computer basics and games, as well as courses introducing children on “how to code” and resume writing. Movie nights are a regular feature at the library and live performances have featured everything from Jazz to puppetry.
“I see my main role as Neighborhood Library Supervisor, to outreach to the community and invite people in, so that the Walt Whitman staff and I can show them what the library has to offer them.
One can immediately see Janet’s very genuine interest in the Fort Greene community. She takes an active role in getting to know her patrons and engaging with kids who nowadays tend to spend more time on the computer than reading books. She’ll ask them about the games they’re playing online, if they’ve ever considered how those games are made, if they’d be interested in making their own games – planting the seeds for curiosity and future learning.
Having attended graduate school in librarian studies and archival management at Pratt Institute, Janet is very familiar with the neighborhood.
Janet is also a part of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Transitional Services Team, a group of library staff who in addition to working in the branches also works in jails, and detention centers delivering books, facilitating story times and book discussions. Janet currently teaches computer basics at a Brooklyn transitional services bureau office.
Ms. Conton’s library, the Walt Whitman branch, currently offers free workshops in many disciplines from business to entertainment for all ages. Those workshops can range from resume assistance for job seekers to Xbox digital bowling for seniors to robotics and learning games and magic tricks. I would especially like young women to participate in our “S.T.E.A.M.” related workshops. Janet would like to expand on the business workshops and add an interviewing skills workshop using the new audio/visual equipment available at the library, she’d like to add video mock interviews, so they can see what they look like when they are being spoken to, when they are speaking and how they sound. Janet would also like to foster more in person book discussion of all age groups. In an effort to use the high interest in the internet at the branch, she’d ultimately like to form an online forum for people to share reviews about what they are reading.
When considering what advice she has for young women today, Janet says first and foremost, to stay in school. Ask your parents for the help you want, but also do your own research. Read about people you admire, find out what they did, write letters to them, ask to interview them and for their advice. Be sure to eat well and get some sleep. And when considering a career (or careers), “pick something that you would do even if you weren’t getting paid a lot. Because if you love it, the money will come, because you’re probably going to be really good at it.”
Janet says she has seen the women’s movement grow over a number of decades and that we are in a new phase right now. She’d like to take advantage of that by encouraging conversations with the women that come into the library – women from different races, nationalities, cultures, and generations. Janet has been looking forward to Women’s History Month and has prepared for what she loves best – organizing programs and events to encourage just that. Find out what’s happening at the Walt Whitman Library here online or drop in at 93 St. Edwards Street, between Myrtle and Park Avenue in Brooklyn.