Monica Walen, KDL Staffer Extraordinaire

Ever notice how kids look at adults they consider cool? At KDL’s Wyoming branch, that’s how kids look at Youth Librarian Monica Walen.

Now others are taking notice. Walen has been named a recipient of the Expanded Learning Opportunities Network’s Rising Star Award.

The ELO is a 14-year-old public-private partnership of the City of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Public Schools and the community. Their Rising Star Award is given to those who demonstrate “extraordinary effort in developing, implementing and improving his or her program for children and being a team player with others for after-school programs.”

Branch Manager Lori Holland credits Monica with increasing teen participation in summer reading actities by 63 percent over the previous year. Monica visited schools in the spring to promote the program and recruit teen volunteers. She also instituted several after-school programs, such as “Science in the Stacks” and an after-school chess club for all ages that recently garnered media attention.

Monica’s other projects include working with Team 21, a Wyoming Public Schools after-school program, to offer a young authors event, and she is serving on the Teen Film Festival committee in partnership with Celebration! Cinema, KDL and the Grand Rapids Public Library .

Providing activities for our younger patrons after school is one of the best parts of my job at KDL,” Monica said. “Even if it’s as simple as giving them a safe place to hang out and do their homework, I feel rewarded.”

Her secret for kid-whispering: “I try to see the world the way my younger patrons do—open and full of wonder and excitement—and it helps me relate to them. It probably doesn’t hurt that I’m also loud and bouncy.”


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Written by Morgan J.

Morgan J.

Morgan J. is a KDL communications assistant. She spends summers as a “hood ornament” of sorts while her husband captains their old, cedar-sided pontoon down the Flat River. In the wintertime she counts the days until she’ll have her toes in the water again.

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8 Responses to “Monica Walen, KDL Staffer Extraordinaire”

  1. Mrs. Danna Harag Says:

    Congratulations Monica! You are amazing! I am so happy for you. (and all those kids! )


    Danna Harag

  2. Sara Lee Says:

    Way to go Monica! That’s a great honor!

  3. Elaine Bertram Says:


    You are perfect for this position! Sharing your love of reading with others just comes naturally to you! So glad you have a chance to share with young people!

  4. Brent Chesley Says:

    Congratulations, Person of Quality!

  5. Sarah Longcore Says:

    Monica, you are a shining star! From your former French teacher.. and it’s nice to hear you are still ‘loud and bouncy’. 🙂

  6. Carol Hoover Says:

    Monica, you are so perfect for this position! The kids are lucky to have you!

  7. Michelle DeRose Says:

    Excellent work, Monica! Do you ever serve cheesecake at these events?!

  8. Louis J. (KDL Helper) Says:

    Nice job Monica! WOOH!