teen librarian returns home

When Katie Donahoe, the new teen librarian at Mt. Lebanon Public Library, started the job in March, she didn’t need much of a tour of the building. Donahoe, a 2006 Mt. Lebanon High School grad, used to come to children’s library storytimes led by now-retired library director Cynthia Richey, who was a former children’s librarian, and retired children’s librarian Judy Sutton.

She says some of her old teachers at the high school and at Mellon Middle School are still working.

“It’s interesting to see things from the other side,” she says.

Donahoe came here from Peoples Library in New Kensington, where she spent five years as children’s librarian. Before that she was in adult services with the Brentwood Library for two years.

She graduated from Allegheny College with a degree in German and planned to teach the language, but the job search didn’t pan out, so she enrolled in the master of library science program at Kent State

“I feel like being a librarian still allows me to work in education, just in different ways,” she says.

Donahoe plans to draw on both  her literary and music background to come up with innovative programs for teens. A songwriter and  multi-instrumentalist, she played in several bands in high school, college and beyond. She also contributed to her school literary magazines.

Her commitment to the arts extends beyond the library and Mt. Lebanon. She volunteers with two organizations, Girls Rock Pittsburgh and Girls Write Pittsburgh, that empower and encourage girls in music and writing.

The recently refurbished teen library space attracts betwen 18 and 30 young people a day during the school year, with a teen cafe and other programs specific to the age group.

Donahoe has spent a lot of time preparing for the Summer Reading Program, and planning events for the rest of the year. She has ideas for new programs—one is a horror book group for middle schoolers—and is looking forward to finding innovative ways to use the library’s maker space, which she sees as a redefinition of the traditional library setting. 

“Right now,” she says, “I’m getting to know the kids and letting them get to know me.”

Photography: Elizabeth Hruby McCabe