Community Connections: Jayne Walters

I want nothing but the best for West Indy and the people that live here and will continue to push to try and make that happen.

Jayne Walters has the unique opportunity to manage the West Indianapolis Public Library as the first openly transgender employee of the Indianapolis Public Library system and has the honor of being the only one who serves as a manager. She has been a member of the West Indy community for seven years and has been involved with volunteer opportunities at Mary Rigg and other neighborhood partners. Jayne has been committed to destigmatize the LGBTQ+ community as well as creating a safe space within the library for anyone who should need it. Jayne participated in a Q & A with Mary Rigg about her career, why she serves the West Indy community, and advice for the neighborhood.

Q: What is your position at the Indy Public Library? How long have you been there?

A: I’m the branch manager of the West Indianapolis branch. I started as the Children’s Librarian at the Brightwood branch. I have been with the Indianapolis Public Library for 7 years total; manager for over two and a half years.

Q: What is your favorite part of interacting with the neighborhood you serve?

A: My favorite part about interacting with the West Indy neighborhood is creating connections. Those connections come in so many forms. Building bridges between community partners as well as the connecting neighbors with resources. Advocating for the neighborhood and its people with outside entities or with the library itself. A large part of it is also connecting with community members as the first openly transgender employee of the Indianapolis Public Library system, and the only one that is a manager. For many people, I’m one of the only queer people that they know and helping to demystify that helps to build better allies for all LGBTQ+ neighbors in the community. Especially the children that are still trying to figure it all out.

Q: What drew you to become a librarian?

A: Helping people is what drew me to becoming a librarian. Most people think that being a librarian is just reading books and suggesting books. It’s so much more than that. We offer food services, help with unemployment, computer help, social services, a safe space for people to be their true selves, and so much more. There are still recommendations of books, movies, and music that goes along with it, and I love that side of the job as well. However, at the heart of it all, it’s about creating a space that is open and welcoming to everyone from CEO’s to those experiencing homelessness. A space that helps them all in its own unique way.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to the youth in the neighborhood, what would it be?

A: Strive to be the person you wish you had in your life as a kid. Be the one that makes a difference in your neighborhood, your community, your school… It’s never too early to push to create good in the world. Start small, on your own block. Then work your way out. You can be the change that is needed.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add about yourself, your career, or about the community that you serve?

A: I’m always happy to talk to anyone about my career, my path, my cats, Young Adult books, or even the latest Marvel movie. I want nothing but the best for West Indy and the people that live here and will continue to push to try and make that happen. My hope is that one day soon we will be one of the library branches that gets a remodel or a new building, but like most things in this neighborhood, that can’t happen without community voices. This is Your library. I’m just here to try and make it the best it can be.

Jayne continues to be a valuable addition to the West Indianapolis community both in her advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community and her commitment to creating a safe space within her branch of the library. Jayne has been involved with Mary Rigg by volunteering in various ministries and building connections with the neighbors both Mary Rigg and the West Indy library branch serves.