As part of our ongoing series of blog posts highlighting our awesome staff throughout the Free Library of Philadelphia, today we take some time to speak with Debi Leonard, who serves as Work-Study Program Coordinator in the Volunteer Services Office.
Debi recently was awarded an External Campus Partner Award from Temple University's Division of Enrollment Management for her work securing work-study opportunities for Temple students at the Library.
What is your role with the Free Library of Philadelphia?
I am the Work-Study Program Coordinator for the Free Library system. I secure positions for students from area colleges and universities and place them in jobs in nearly every area of the library. Some work in neighborhood libraries as afterschool program assistants or computer assistants, and some have positions where their work is more closely related to their course of study, such as in the Fleisher Collection or in the Languages and Learning Center.
What do you wish more people knew about the library where you work?
We are so much more than a place to borrow books. There are so many resources available for ALL of the people of Philadelphia. Whether they want to join us in person or, especially during the time of COVID, through the multitude of programs and virtual offerings.
What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?
What I enjoy the most is being able to assist students in finding a source of income as they navigate the difficult and financially-challenging college years. Securing them work-study jobs at the Free Library is especially satisfying because of the nature of the locations and buildings where they work, the amazing people they get to meet and work with, and for the résumé building opportunities that will surely help them when they apply for jobs in the future.
What are you currently reading / watching?
I am currently in the midst of reading three books: The Robber Bride by Margret Atwood is by my bedside, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo is my afternoon backyard book, and for lighter reading and personal growth I read Spirituality and Health magazine cover to cover over a period of time. Right now I am watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu and my husband and I are watching Ozark on Netflix. Both are very intense and somewhat disturbing, so my next watch will definitely be something on the lighter side.
Where’s your favorite place to read in Philly?
I do most of my reading on my front porch, in my back yard and (especially in the winter) curled up in bed. Sometimes I wander over to Gorgas Park near my home in Roxborough and find an empty park bench to sit, read, and ponder.
Do you have a favorite librarian or other Free Library staff member at your neighborhood library you think we should shine a spotlight on? Let us know in the comments!