Photo by Theo Tate
Erica Hanke-Young is Six Mile Library District’s new youth services librarian.
GRANITE CITY — After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Illinois in Springfield, Erica Hanke-Young decided to go west.
“It was after I graduated there and I was kind of working at a bookstore job, sort of like a Waldenbooks, and a bank teller job and I wasn’t happy with that,” Hanke-Young said. “So (I decided) to go to back to school.”
Hanke-Young went to Arizona and was later accepted into the University of Arizona’s Graduate School of Library Science, which is accredited by the American Library Association.
“We went and visited my uncle in Arizona and I absolutely loved it there,” Hanke-Young said. “I said, ‘I want to apply for school here.’ As a student worker at UIS, I worked at the library. So I’ll go back (to school) and I’ll enjoy that, getting my master’s in library science.”
After graduating from the University of Arizona with a master’s degree in library science in 2005, Hanke-Young’s library career took off. She worked two years at a public library in Camdenton, Mo., and eight years as assistant director at the Marion (Ill.) Carnegie Library. Last month, Hanke-Young was named the new youth services manager for the Six Mile Library District.
“I went the public (library) route and I really haven’t regretted it,” Hanke-Young said.
Hanke-Young was promoted to youth services manager after working as a part-time reference librarian for six months. She replaced Jen Conroy, who worked as the library’s youth services manager for four years.
“I’m glad to be here full time,” Hanke-Young said. “I’m really excited to work with kids. When I was in Marion, I did a lot with the kids and my office was up at the teen room. So you’d miss seeing the kids. I would go down and help out with story hour every week. You’d kind of miss seeing that. Not that I don’t enjoy seeing the adults, too. You’d miss seeing the kids and it would be fun getting back down there.”
Hanke-Young will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the children’s department. Her first day was July 5.
“I’m sure there will be story hours and things like that,” Hanke-Young said. “I’ll probably try some things I know that worked in Marion. Crafts and Legos always went well. We’ll be trying some stuff out.”
Hanke-Young said she found out there’s always something different when working at a library.
“You can research genealogy one day or somebody can ask you a crazy question,” she said. “In Missouri, one of my favorites was a phone call I took, and they said, ‘I have a bet going. Can you spell Tijuana?’ I enjoy working with people and seeing everybody. I like working with adults and teens and everybody. You don’t know what you’re going to get day to day and it’s a lot of fun and I enjoy that.”
Hanke-Young joined the Six Mile Library staff in December.
“The whole year has been kind of crazy,” Hanke-Young said. “I got married. My husband (Keith) is working at Lindenwood University in St. Charles and I had to quit to look for something over this way. My husband and I got married a year ago in May. He’s in IT, so he had an easier time finding a job than I did. It took me until December to find a job over this way.”
Hanke-Young grew up in Hoffman, a town of 500 people in Clinton County.
“We didn’t have a public library,” Hanke-Young said. “But I always loved reading.”
After graduating from Arizona, Hanke-Young got a reference librarian job at the Camden County Library District in Camdenton, Mo.
“That was a nice job,” Hanke-Young said. “I was a reference librarian down there, too. But I was also in my mid-20s and single, and it was not a real exciting place to live. So I started looking around again and the assistant director (position) in Marion opened up and I got that.”
Hanke-Young said while working at Marion, she learned a lot from director David Patton.
“Until I got married and my life went into complete upheaval, my plan was I was going to take over for him when he retired,” Hanke-Young said. “He included me in every aspect of the library. I probably owe a lot to him.”
Now, Hanke-Young, who will turn 37 on July 31, is working for a library district that had its downtown branch at Delmar Avenue renovated in 2014.
“I like it here,” Hanke-Young said. “It’s a nice place.”