To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting some of our incredible staff who work diligently on the front line and behind the scenes to provide WCCLS patrons unmatched library services.
Meet Kristen Thorp, Library Director at West Slope Library since 2019. She oversees the facility, manages library operations and coordinates with two supervisors to support the rest of the 14-person staff. She also collaborates with library directors across the cooperative and works with WCCLS team leads on various internal projects. West Slope Library is the only library in WCCLS governed by Washington County.
She sat down to talk with the editor of this fine blog to chat about what inspired her career path, what she does when she’s not in the library and a woman she admires. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
WCCLS: What inspired you to work for the library?
KT: I started working at the public library when I was 19. My neighbor was the president of the Friends group and got me an interview. I was working there for about five years when I kept saying, “I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do with my life.” I thought I was having too much fun and someone told me that was the point. I went back for my bachelor’s and then my master’s degree, and I never looked back.
WCCLS: What is your favorite part of the job?
KT: Because I have a youth services background, my favorite part is connecting with kids and giving them a place to be, where they can have fun and learn.
WCCLS: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
KT: I’m a fiber artist. I like to work with textiles – I crochet, embroider, stitch. I love playing games and puzzles and spending time with my loved ones. I moved to Portland right before the pandemic hit so now that things are easing up, I’m having fun exploring. I like learning about the places I live and getting to see things. I’m trying to go as many museums as possible. And I love being in the water.
WCCLS: What is your favorite board game?
KT: Clue. I grew up playing that game and loved the mysteries. I always liked the idea of solving mysteries. Anytime there’s a cozy mystery – about a librarian by day, crime solver by night – I think those are hilarious. Clue has a special place in my heart.
WCCLS: Who is a woman you admire?
KT: I admire my mom. She taught me the value of hard work. She worked in a male-dominated field and had to deal with a lot of sexism and oppression. She started off in an entry-level position and 45 years later she was a top person in her company. I admire her work ethic and the support she gave to our family.
WCCLS: What is something you hope to do before the year is over?
KT: My passport expired during the pandemic and traveling is very important to me. I like to see the world and experience different cultures and ways of life. My goal is to get my passport renewed and book a trip.
WCCLS: If you had to book a trip right now, where would you go?
KT: Maybe Iceland or South Korea.
More from our Women's History Month staff spotlights:
'Libraries Are at the Heart of Everything I Love'
Bringing a Passion for Social Work and Different Cultures to Youth Services