Kristen at Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Italy
Face coverings made and donated by Kristen
Kristen on the Amalfi coast
A Pac-Man blanket in the works
Kristen Thorp obviously could have never foreseen COVID-19 and how it would require a lightning-speed transition to online services to maintain patrons’ access. But only four months into a new leadership role, she took it in stride.
“If I have to go through a pandemic-size upheaval at work, I want it to be with my library colleagues and for my library patrons,” she says.
Thorp, supervisor of West Slope Community Library, always loved libraries but never expected to find herself working in one.
A Santa Clarita, California native, she grew up around the movie industry and intended to make documentaries. “I wanted to tell the stories of some lesser-known women in the arts – like Mary Blair, an animator with The Walt Disney Company, or Carol Kaye, a session musician in the famed Wrecking Crew.”
Kristen did give film school a try, “I loved school but absolutely hated working on set. It wasn’t for me.”
She took a part-time job as a page (someone who uses their knowledge of books and other library materials to make recommendations and help locate items) and shelver in the library she had frequented as a child – and discovered her life’s work. “That job truly changed my entire perspective on life,” she says.
Thorp has worked in a progression of library jobs for the last 17 years and earned her Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Washington in 2013. She moved into library management four years ago and took over supervision of West Slope in late 2019. Since the onset of COVID precautions, she has also been the library liaison to the Washington County emergency operations center.
“We are still able to help our community during this pandemic and that feels really great,” she says.
Kristen loves traveling and enjoying new experiences. She’s taken trips to Canada, Ireland, Belgium, England, Italy and the Netherlands. Mexico is a favorite repeat destination. She’s planning a trip to Iceland with her brother for next year. A lifelong lover of water, you’ll find her seeking out a variety of beaches, “If it’s water, it’s a good day,” she says.
She also loves offbeat attractions (the world’s largest ball of twine) and random roadside stops.
Reading Douglas Adams’ “Last Chance to See” put New Zealand – and seeing its kākāpō parrots -- on her list of must-go-to destinations. “That book gave me my passion for conservation. There are less than 250 of those birds in the world and I don’t want to miss that chance.”
She finds other outlets for her creativity making quilts, crocheting or embroidering. Cooking is another passion (“Mexican, Thai or a good chocolate chip cookie”) and … in a nod to her erstwhile career goal … watching movies (currently all Disney movies in chronological order).
Kristen is excited about whatever opportunities libraries offer her in the future. “To say I’ve learned a lot as a team leader during a global pandemic is an understatement. I know that anything is possible when you work with an all-star team.”