Meet Your Library Staff – Benjamin Brantley, Assistant Circulation Supervisor and Library Assistant
High up in Poudre Canyon, an abandoned an abandoned B17 bomber plane ages within the towering forest. In other locations of the Rocky Mountain forest floor lie patches of endangered wild orchid species welcoming only the most adventurous to absorb their beauty. Several canyons away, a secluded lake holds a population of neotenic tiger salamanders, axolotl-looking creatures that retain their juvenile traits.
Benjamin Brantley, the Assistant Circulation Supervisor at Council Tree Library (and a Library Assistant) has ventured to these secluded locations, thanks to books he checked out from the library. Libraries are not unlike these little-known spots, a place for growth or a place to discover something new, a place to rejoice or a place to reflect.
“It’s neat being in Colorado that has so much around every corner. You drive 45 minutes and see something you’ve never seen before,” Benjamin said smiling after describing his research process.
For the past nine years, Benjamin has worked at Council Tree Library, a location he has frequented since it opened its doors in 2009 and he was in middle school.
Libraries have always been an integral part of Benjamin’s life. When he was three years old, a photojournalist captured an image of him and his mother at the Library as part of a feature about how parents can enrich their children’s lives. “Being able to pursue a topic and learn more about XYZ and have librarians who are going to help you and guide you on your path is amazing. I was always that kid all the librarians knew.”
His adoration for libraries, fostered from a young age, inspired him to volunteer at Council Tree Library beginning in 2010. “I loved libraries and it’s a great place to get work experience. Once you get a taste, you’re hooked. I think there is a picture of me volunteering with braces somewhere.”
Right after high school, Benjamin began as a customer experience representative at Council Tree Library, shelving books around the library and helping answer patron questions. Later, he became a Library Assistant and oversaw programs. Staying true to his roots as an outdoor adventurer, some of his favorite programs bring nature into libraries including birds of prey (Rocky Mountain Raptors) and wolf dogs.
Benjamin has also helped develop the curriculum for our digital literacy classes, a vitally important service that offers learning opportunities to community members in a rapidly shifting digital world. “I’ve always been interested in technology and built my first PC in high school. To be able to use those skills in the library has been great. There are technology skills that can get overlooked generationally and there is a tendency to get comfortable with one way of doing something while new alternatives are developed all the time.”
A new addition to our technology classes that Benjamin helped develop is a class all about streaming and the pros and cons of opting to stream over cable service. Our digital literacy classes are offered (like all our programs) for free. “It’s rare to find a job where you can help people without a commercial aspect. It’s purely just sharing the resources. At computer classes there are those who haven’t touched a computer before all the way to retired career IT people looking to brush up on their Excel skills.”
The Quirks of the Reference Desk
One of Benjamin’s most memorable interactions was helping a graduate student who was teaching herself Hebrew. “She wanted a document that would have Hebrew with Hebrew characters, anglicized Hebrew, and English to compare all three with same source and to find something that would fit the three different languages. It was a unique challenge to find the right resource.”
Children also bring great questions to the reference desk. “Kids are the most fun, they always have their specifics like wanting a dinosaur book but not one about stegosauruses.”
Council Tree Library is a busy location; among the stranger things Benjamin has found while processing returns at the library include a cookie lovingly placed between the pages of a book. Another cheesy find? Literally a slice of cheese in a book, was a close second.
A Swiss Army Knife Mentality
Having worked in so many different positions in our district, Benjamin brings different levels of experience to his job. “I feel like a Swiss army knife at times. Those different skill sets really help. Each day brings something new and its own challenges.”
Benjamin recently joined our internal Learning Team which helps facilitate staff training and gives him an opportunity to lean into another one of his passions, project management. He recently finished a Project Management Certificate and hopes to apply it to his role.
Another joy of working at the library is the people. “The people that I work with are very smart and each has their unique set of skills. Also being public facing, the people that I get to meet remind me there is something to learn from everybody.”
With nearly a decade working in libraries, he also aims to open people’s eyes to what libraries are today, “I think people don’t always know what libraries are in the modern world…a lot of people think its archaic and a bunch of dusty books, but they don’t know about all our resources, our streaming, our databases, and events. We’re a community gathering place. That picture of it being a quiet space with just books are libraries of yesteryear.”
To the Secrets in the Stacks
When he’s not welcoming families and customers into the doors of Council Tree Library, Benjamin spends his spare time hiking, paddle boarding, and exploring. One of his favorite secret spots that he discovered last year was a swimming hole just across the border in Wyoming. When probed about its location he said, “It’s very cool, let’s just leave it at that.” A fellow explorer with enough ambition is likely to find the secret hidden somewhere in a book on our shelves.
Benjamin’s all-time favorite book (although he admittedly finds the question loaded as an avid reader) is The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne. Recently, he has been listening to Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
Over the past nine years, Benjamin has helped foster a welcoming library, a modern library that represents so much more than books. He closed our interview with a timeless statement, “Come to the Library, it’s fun here. Afterall, “Having fun isn’t hard when you have a Library Card.”