Young adult coordinator at Lowell Library closes book on 14-year career
March 8, 2013 4:32PM
Debbie Blink, 57, lives in the West Creek neighborhood of Lowell. She recently retired as the young adult coordinator at the Lowell Public Library, where she worked for 14 years. | Jeff Manes~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 11, 2013 6:20AM
“One of the greatest gifts my brother and I received from my mother was her love of literature and language. With their boundless energy, libraries open the door to these worlds and so many others. I urge young and old alike to embrace all that libraries have to offer.”
— Caroline Kennedy
I recently interviewed Debbie Blink at the Lowell Public Library; it was her last day on the job. She was the young adult coordinator at the library.
Blink, 57, lives in the West Creek neighborhood of Lowell with her husband, Tom, a retired pipefitter at BP in Whiting. They’ve raised three adult children, Josh, Dustin and Ashlee.
“Jeff, I gotta tell you, I’m not very interesting,” Blink began.
Talk to me.
“Tom and I graduated from Highland High School; we were high school sweethearts.”
“I attended Indiana University, but didn’t finish.”
“No, I wanted to become a schoolteacher. Tom and I got married and we built a house in Schererville. We lived there for five years before moving to Lowell.”
You and Tom built the house in Lowell as well.
“Yes, a log cabin on seven acres. We’ve lived in Lowell for about 30 years.”
For years, you and Tom would put on an annual craft show.
“Every Thanksgiving weekend. I don’t do the flowers anymore. We’re down to 12 8-feet by 12-feet raised beds.”
You’ve always enjoyed gardening.
“Oh, yeah. I used to work in the greenhouses for the Glazes; I was paid in flowers. It was wonderful for me. If I worked five hours, I could take home five flats of flowers or five hanging baskets.
“In my gardens, I’d grow anything that would go into wreaths, but I’ll never do the wreaths again. It’s so much work. I used to start with 50 wreaths. The hours to do the wreaths were endless.”
Were you hired right off the bat as young adult coordinator or were you an assistant librarian first?
“Jeff, I’m not a librarian. Librarians go to school for a long time to earn that title. I started out as a clerk. Becoming young adult coordinator was a dream job; I got lucky.”
What age groups are considered young adults?
“Sixth grade through seniors. Once they got done with fifth grade, they were mine. Sometimes that’s a little difficult. What a junior or a senior wants to do can be different than what a sixth-grader wants to do.”
Tell me about some of the programs you came up with.
“We did everything — ballroom dancing, cheerleading clinics, exercise, candy making, candle making, string art, manicures, book discussions ... .”
A few of the books you discussed?
“ ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘Stargirl,’ ‘Sugar Isn’t Everything,’ the ‘Twilight’ series ... .”
In your 14 years at the library, did you have any kids who stuck with you from sixth through 12th grades?
“No, young adults find other activities as they get older. Take your twins for instance, they were cross-country runners and cheerleaders in high school. There are other kids who don’t get into sports, cheerleading, choir, they’re not on the debate team, but everybody needs something.
“About 10th grade, you start losing them. They get boyfriends; they get jobs. And that’s a good thing that they’re not spending all their time here.”
What night of the week did young adults meet?
“Tuesday night I traveled to Shelby, Wednesday night was Schneider and Thursday was always Lowell.”
Thoughts on retirement?
“Jeff, what can you say when you leave the position you love? It’s definitely bittersweet. I’m so thankful to have been in this position. My young adults could talk; they could tell me what was important to them. We had a great time.
“I worked with friends — good friends. They are hard-working people who love their jobs and give all they can to the patrons they care for. My 14 years at Lowell Public Library were a wonderful part of my life.”
Blink started out to be a schoolteacher nearly 40 years ago. That didn’t work out, but once she raised her children, she did end up working with kids. And those kids, their parents, and her workmates will attest that she was good at it.
All three of the Blink children were distance runners at Lowell High School. Dustin, the middle child, held several school records for a while. Josh, the eldest, teaches world history and coaches cross country and track at Lowell Middle School. Ashley, the youngest, works for Lowell Public Library.
It has been a good run, Debbie Blink.