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San Marcos Public Library’s newest edition to the team, Jennifer Jones-Kelley. Photo provided by the San Marcos Public Library

Creating lifelong learners

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

The newest team member of the San Marcos Public Library has a ton of experience working with children; In fact, Jennifer Jones-Kelley, the children’s librarian, has a “huge” family and even became an aunt when she was just four years old. She now has 15 nieces and nephews and almost two dozen great nieces and nephews. She has a wealth of experience with children and has been caring for them her entire life. With the combination of the years of caretaking wisdom and the tutelage of the former children’s librarian of 23 years, the current Library Division Manager Ashley Schimelman, Jones-Kelley is thriving in her position and enriching the lives of the community’s youth.

Jones-Kelley got her degree in what is essentially elementary education, but is formally called Applied Learning and Development, from the University of Texas. She taught fourth grade for forty years before she went back to UT for a degree in Library Science. Jones-Kelley describes her position as her dream job.

“I just grew up taking care of kids, and not so much [just] taking care of kids, but entertaining kids, playing with kids, teaching kids, and when there weren’t kids visiting the house I was seeking that out,” Jones-Kelley said, adding that each of her careers in her adult life has involved teaching or caring for children as well. “It feeds my soul.”

Her love of books was developed early. “I grew up in the country, and I’m not a very outdoorsy person,” Jones-Kelley said, adding that she played a game called the Hobbit, which just meant she packed a bag and went on a long walk in search of the perfect reading spot. “I always had a book in my hand even if I was walking out in the pasture. I was looking for an oak tree that had good shade, so I could sit under it and read.”

She said when she realized that being a librarian didn’t have to be a quiet job, she wanted to pursue it.

“The job that I do here is not at all quiet. … I’m very against shushing,” Jones-Kelley said, adding that she previously thought that quieting children was the main task required for the position. “It’s a big job and a big field, and there’s a lot of things you can do with it.”

The San Marcos Public Library works tirelessly to ensure that the community feels welcome.

“I’ve heard from some families that had gone to other libraries and had bad experiences in whatever town that they had come from where they had been shushed and they had been shamed,” Jones-Kelley said. “Then they moved here and walked into our library and felt welcomed. For them to even walk into our library is a huge compliment to the programming that we do and to the reputation that we have here. And it’s one reasons that I am so humbled to have gotten this job.”

Jones-Kelley said the public library can impact the entire city in positive ways. “If we can do that in a library and create lifelong learners and lifelong readers then that benefits the entire community,” Jones-Kelley said. “That effect trickles down and everyone benefits.”

The holiday season kept Jones-Kelley super busy as the library had many events. Santa came to the library, La Sirena Del Rio visited and shared tamales with the children, there was a Mermaid Christmas with the Mermaid Society, Growing up Wild brought animals, in addition to many puppet shows. She said that beginning next month, there will be monthly home-school meet and greets so that the kids can get out and socialize with their peers.

“We have a big pamphlet that we give out every month full of children’s programs,” Jones-Kelley said. “It’s our duty to the community to provide as many enriching activities as possible so that when the kids are out of school they have something fulfilling to do, and that it’s free and entertaining and the whole community can do it together.”

Follow the San Marcos Public Library on facebook or on instagram @ sanmarcospubliclibrary to keep up with upcoming events and watch the funny reels they make.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666