Greenback native Jordan Baker is right at home after being named the city’s public library director.
Baker, 23, started at Greenback School in kindergarten and finished high school in 2015. She lived in Knoxville for two years while attending the University of Tennessee but moved back to Greenback after receiving her bachelor’s degree in English.
She knew she wanted to be a librarian as early as high school.
“I did student training for our Greenback football team and our trainer there … I was telling him I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and he was telling me his wife was a librarian, and that I should look into that because I love reading and books, and I would talk about it a lot,” Baker said. “So I went home, and I looked at it, and I just decided that was what I wanted to do. I’ve been moving toward that ever since. My senior year, I worked a little bit. I didn’t have a whole lot of classes, so I would go and help the Greenback librarian just to make sure it was what I wanted to do.”
Baker is now pursuing a master’s degree in information science while working full time as Greenback’s librarian. Because the program is online, she is able to operate the library during normal hours and spend evenings in class. She saves weekends for homework and works Mondays at an internship in the University of Tennessee’s cataloging department.
She is still learning the basics of being a librarian.
“It’s been a process so far learning the collection, learning what we have, what we might not have, learning how we organize things, the most basic things, learning how to order stickers, things like that have been what I’m learning so far and budgeting and reports and things like that,” Baker said. “But mostly I’m trying to learn the collection and learn what people want so that I can provide that, because a lot of stuff that people want is not stuff that I myself read. You know, I don’t read a lot of mystery, and it’s very popular.”
She wants to offer programming eventually but first needs to get the library organized.
“The young adult was in among all the adult, so my library assistant and I this week have been making a young adult shelf, and we’ve been going through and making sure everything’s alphabetized and things like that, putting everything in order before we really take on anything else,” Baker said. “But once we’re done with that I’m sure we’ll try to find a new project to do.”
Loudon Public Library Director Kate Clabough has been Baker’s “library guardian angel.” Clabough has been training Baker and offering guidance.
“She’s gotten a lot of information thrown at her in a very short period of time, and she’s been really good about rolling with whatever comes through that door, which when you’re in a library could be anything,” Clabough said. “I think there’s a myth that we sit at our libraries and read books all day, which we’d really love to do, but that’s not exactly what happens. … She’s learning software that she’s completely unfamiliar with, has never seen it before, and learning all of the intricacies of software that isn’t necessarily intuitive, but she’s done just an excellent job of just picking up and taking notes, copious amounts of notes so that she can just get on top of this.”
Baker also has Lane Ricketts, library assistant, by her side. Baker brought Ricketts on staff because of his passion for books.
Ricketts said their friendship and mutual love of books makes working together easy.
“It’s very smooth working,” he said. “We know what the other person wants to do with the library. We know how to help.”
Baker’s “driving force” is her passion and her love of books.
“I’m one of those people that feels like there’s a book for everyone,” she said. “A lot of people that say they don’t like reading — I think it’s just you haven’t found that right book or maybe you don’t like reading physically, but maybe you like audio books, things like that. So I think passion is a big one and staying dedicated and just knowing that eventually it will pay off, because it’s been years and years of school. I’m a first-generation college student, so I didn’t really know anything going in.”