Books and libraries have been constant companions for Karen Brooks since she was a child, as her family moved frequently following her father’s service in the military.
The first thing the family would do at a new town was find the local library and get signed up for library cards.
“When you move around that much, books were my best friend,” Brooks said.
Brooks is the new branch manager for the Gig Harbor Pierce County Library. She took over the position April 1 when previous manager Tracey Thompson was promoted to manager of the Pierce County Library System’s collections.
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With an undergraduate degree in linguistics from the University of Arizona and a master’s in library and information sciences from the University of Pittsburgh, Brooks has had her feet on the librarian path since she was a teenager.
I realized that maybe I actually can do this thing that includes everything I love and still be a fun person in the world.
Karen Brooks, branch manager of Gig Harbor Pierce County library
Encouraged by her mother and inspired by the 1995 movie “Party Girl,” (which starred Parker Posey, who plays a young woman who grudgingly begins working in a library to discover she loves the work) Brooks realized that librarians were not the boring stereotypes portrayed in popular culture.
“I realized that maybe I actually can do this thing that includes everything I love and still be a fun person in the world,” Brooks said.
Her point is further illustrated by her literary tattoos: a robin and key in homage to her favorite book, “The Secret Garden,” and the book tattoo gracing the inside of her right forearm.
“The idea is that books can set your imagination free and keep you from becoming too grounded,” she explained.
With experiences in a wide variety of libraries, from the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh to a public reference library in London, Brooks has a love for libraries and the different communities they serve.
“I have a lot of favorite aspects of my job,” she said. “One of my favorite things to do is find those teenagers who were myself at 15 and let them know the library is for them.”
Along with connecting with the libraries teens, Brooks also enjoys working with other library patrons, from searching for new picture books with grade- schoolers to helping older patrons understand newer technology.
Gig Harbor has a strong sense of community and a unique personality. One of my goals is the Gig Harbor library continues to be a match for the Gig Harbor community.
“My favorite thing about my job is connecting people to the info they need,” she said.
A resident of North Tacoma, Brooks is working to familiarize herself with the city of Gig Harbor but is quickly getting a feel for the community through their use of the library facilities.
“Gig Harbor has a strong sense of community and a unique personality,” she said. “One of my goals is the Gig Harbor library continues to be a match for the Gig Harbor community.”
As she continues to become familiar with city and community of Gig Harbor, the staff at the library have worked hard to make Brooks feel at home.
“Everyone here has just been so welcoming,” she said. “I think the team here is just so welcoming and I think the people coming into the library know we can meet their needs.”
The Gig Harbor Pierce County Library is located at 4424 Point Fosdick Drive NW.