New branch librarian

Jen Silmser is the new branch librarian at the Carolina Forest Library.

Jen Silmser really didn’t think she’d get the job as research librarian at the Carolina Forest Library.

She was in Buffalo, New York, working part time at the Buffalo library and part time at Barnes & Noble.

Her mother encouraged her to apply for the local job, reminding her that a home that had belonged to her grandparents was available in North Myrtle Beach for her to live in.

She knew there wasn’t a lot of room for her to move up in the Buffalo library system, so she thought, “Why not?”

That “Why not?” turned into an interview in February 2015, and orientation day for the brand new research librarian on March 9.

And as the previous Carolina Forest Library manager, Kim Cantley, moved to the Conway Library, Silmser moved into the position of branch librarian in The Forest.

She said she thinks of the library as a forum, “a place where the community can engage each other.”

She wants groups in the area to partner with the library, coming in to present their programs to get more people involved in the library.

Silmser says she especially wants people who don’t utilize the library to contact her.

“I’m very much available to those people who don’t think the library is for them,” she says. “I want them to tell me what I can do to make it be for them.”

There was a time when Silmser didn’t know the library was actually for her.

As an English major, “everyone thought the usual path would be for me to be a teacher,” she says.

Unsure of what she wanted to do, she already knew the classroom was not where she wanted to spend her days.

It was in the last class of the last day of undergrad school that she took a survey given by a master’s in library sciences program.

“I thought, ‘This is a really good idea, I want to be a librarian,’” and that, she says, was the beginning of her own path.

Being the branch librarian instead of the research librarian means less “hands-on” work for Silmser, and she says that has its up and down sides.

While she does miss that active involvement, it affords her more options for getting projects done.

“Being the person to delegate the task instead of the person doing it means I have more help with things I’d like to get done.”

The librarian is looking forward to having a technology lab with a sound booth and green screen included in the Carolina Forest branch.

She’s also excited about the 3-D printer the Friends of the Carolina Forest Library made possible.

“I can see the kids writing stories and having the 3-D printer create the characters,” she says. “That would be something fun for them to do.

“There are so many new things the [Horry County] library system is trying to implement, and I will take the general ideas and apply them in ways that will work for the Carolina Forest area,” she says.

Director of Libraries Cynthia Thornley has no doubt Silmser will do exactly that.

Describing the new branch librarian as “innovative, collaborative and excited to design new opportunities for learning and literacy for the community,” Thornley says, “It’s a pleasure to welcome her to her new role at the Carolina Forest Library.”

While she lists the many tangible materials the library offers in addition to books, such as DVDs and videos, Silmser says those aren’t the most important things to take away from the building.

“It’s not just about taking physical things home,” she says. “What we offer enriches people’s lives, so it’s about what they take home internally.

“It’s about what they learn, the relationships they create, the experiences they have.”

When Silmser has free time, she helps her parents get her grandparents’ old home ready to sell, takes care of her three cats, spends time with her boyfriend who lives in Charleston, and looks for a new place to live.

Has Silmser’s mother ever said, “I told you so?” about suggesting her daughter apply for a job at the Carolina Forest Library?

“She never said that,” Silmser says. “But when she smiles, I know she’s thinking it.”


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