What Service Leadership Means to Me

When you hear the word leader, who comes to mind?  If someone asked me that question a few weeks ago, I would say a leader is the head of an organization, politician, or other lead decision maker.  Participating in the Aurora Chamber’s Leadership Academy, however, has broadened my horizons of leadership.  I was especially intrigued the week we discussed service leadership.  We heard from organizations like Rush Copley, VNA, and Strong Prepared and Ready for Kindergarten (SPARK) and I thought to myself….THIS IS WHAT I DO!  During my short time in the workforce, I’ve switched between different types of service leadership roles.  After college, I started working in a library as a children’s services assistant.  This job wasn’t what I was expecting to do with my life, having graduated with my bachelors in Telecommunications: Broadcast News. Although my path diverted, I enjoyed working in a library, as I was able to use some of my journalistic research skills to help library customers locate information. Plus, working with children was fun.  I was able to read silly books, sing songs, and make crafts!  Who could ask for a better job?

Six years later, though, my path diverted again. I found myself moving to Iowa after my husband got a job at a local newspaper as a reporter. I knew I would need to find work in Iowa, but there weren’t many library positions available.  Luckily, there was an opening for a news director at the local radio station. Starting my new job was strange.  I was new to a community I didn’t know and who didn’t know me. The radio station I worked for was also in direct competition with my husband’s newspaper for reporting stories, so there was this strange competitiveness between the two of us. Being the newbie in town with no connections was hard.  However, after showing up continuously at town meetings and events, I was able to start forming connections.  As I got to know people in the community, I started receiving invites to help out with special projects around town.  I was asked to help with the local chamber’s holiday parade, I became a board member of the local arts council and library, and I was invited to speak to a radio/ television class at a local middle school.  I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed these roles.  I felt like I was making a difference by serving the community.

After a year, however, I knew that my heart was in librarianship and my husband and I moved to Aurora.  As a children’s librarian I enjoy serving the community through helping customers locate needed materials, presenting diverse programs for people of all ages, attending school and community events as a library representative, and always striving to provide customers with what they need. Whether I am hosting a storytime where a child learns the basic skills necessary to start attending preschool, or visiting school literacy nights to highlight all the programs and services the library offers, I truly enjoy serving my community.  Being a part of Leadership Academy has not only helped me establish more opportunities for partnerships between the library and area organizations, but it has given me a glimpse of the Aurora community. I am happy to call Aurora home and help serve this community.

Angela Van Vuren is the children’s services manager at the Eola Road Branch of the Aurora Public Library. She has worked in libraries for more than 10 years. She mostly reads children’s books with her favorites being anything by Jan Thomas or Neil Gaiman. She lives in Aurora with her husband Zack and their dog Hammy. Angela is a participant in this year’s #AuroraLeadership Academy program.

Comments are closed.