Staff Spotlight: Beth Steffensmeier

Though she didn’t remember doing it, Beth Steffensmeier had set her sights on librarianship
as a child. As an adult, she discovered a fourth grade assignment that had asked her to predict
her future profession, and she was surprised to see that she had written “LIBRARIAN.”

Steffensmeier always loved books and reading, but libraries were never a place she wanted to spend a lot of time. She didn’t enjoy the silence and didn’t even use them as a place to study in college. She preferred being among people and wanted libraries to be a gathering space for the community. 

Following graduation from Hastings College, Steffensmeier moved to Omaha when her boyfriend (now husband) got a job with the city. As she looked for a job, she found herself drawn to libraries, but wasn’t sure that’s what she wanted to do. Steffensmeier often saw former OPL Executive Director Rivkah Sass on the news and wondered if that was a sign of what she should be

doing with her life. She decided to find out by calling Sass and asking for a meeting to learn more about librarianship. After that discussion, Steffensmeier was sold.

She decided to pursue a master’s degree in library science through a program jointly offered by the University of Nebraska Omaha and the University of Missouri. In an effort to gain library experience, Steffensmeier began working as a library aide one night a week at Milton R. Abrahams Branch in 2008. Though her time in that position was short-lived, it started her on a path to advance her library career through a variety of different experiences.

Currently, Steffensmeier works at Millard Branch as a full-time library specialist. In this role, she supervises library aides, coordinates branch volunteers, facilitates a book club, and works with the library collection. She takes pride in her work and feels like libraries have evolved to be the kind of places she always wanted them to be.

“I know our purpose - to be a community gathering place where all are welcome, where people come to learn things or expose themselves to different opinions, worlds, cultures and stories,” said Steffensmeier. “It's so great!”

Though she doesn’t know where her library career will take her next, Steffensmeier enjoys her current role. “I love it,” she said. “The common good of being able to truly help people trumps any challenges.”