Alex Phillips’ journey to becoming a Youth Services Librarian and Assistant Branch Manager reads much like the children’s books she shares with local kids during story time. As a small child growing up in Daytona, Alex had dreams of being a ballerina or a doctor. She’s the first to admit though, that she isn’t graceful and really can’t handle the sight of blood. So Alex spent her college years at FSU in Tallahassee before relocating to Palm Coast and obtaining an entry-level position within the St. Johns County Library System.
Looking back, Alex notes that her proud, affectionate mother played a significant role in her career path. “I grew up being surrounded by books…my mom and I would just read all the time,” she recalls. In fact, Alex’s mom herself had lifelong aspirations of working in library science. A shift in Alex’s trajectory occurred during a candid meeting she had with a professor in the English Literature department at FSU. His advice to her just before graduation was this: don’t pursue graduate studies in English. He referred Alex to the career center where an adviser recommended library school. She then interned at the Leon County Public Library and realized “it was perfect.”
In her current roles at St. Augustine’s Southeast Library Branch, no two days are the same. Twice a week, Alex holds story time, which consistently draws an audience of about 50. This is no criss-cross-applesauce affair, and it’s by far Alex’s favorite part of the day. Singing acapella, stomping and roaring like a dinosaur, and other similar shenanigans are par for the course. Her audience of infants to five-year-olds (sometimes including her very own kiddos) look forward with eagerness to story time every week. Alex is touched when children seek her out for a warm embrace, book in hand, to show their literacy progress while reading to her and sharing what’s new in their lives. It stands to reason that, by now, Alex has lived out her childhood dreams of ballet and medicine by virtue of the characters she brings to life.
When it’s time to switch gears, Alex enters a supervisory role with reference desk work, training, and administrative duties. Her outreach takes her off-site to various schools, where she serves on the School Advisory Committee. On some days, she facilitates professional development for other libraries and organizations in Titusville, Ocala, Live Oak, and Jacksonville.
Bearing in mind that the southern portion of our community is rapidly growing, Alex is working hard to expand the reach of library programs that many are unaware of. Increasing literacy among children is a priority. She also wants the community to make use of free online tutoring, job assistance, and one-on-one tech courses – all offered within the local library system.
At home, Alex’s life is currently a culmination of achieved goals. She and her husband are expecting their third child, who will join their toddler and 20-month-old. They recently became St. Augustine homeowners and love going on old city adventures at the Alligator Farm, thrift stores, and local coffee shops. St. Augustine is lucky to have such a whole-heartedly driven professional determined to help her community thrive.