2010 Forward under 40 Award Honoree
UW Major: Library and Information Studies
Age: 29 | Washington, D.C.
Manager, Children's and Teen Services, D.C. Public Library System
"Even the hardest workday becomes fun if I get a chance to spend time with the great teens in my community."
If the Washington, D.C.'s next generation develops any love for the printed word, Elsworth Rockefeller deserves at least some of the credit. As a librarian, he's devoting his career to fostering a love of reading among the capital's young people.
A product of Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, Rockefeller came to the UW to study library science because he'd always enjoyed young-adult literature and wanted to share that feeling with new generations of readers. "Working with teens is exciting, because their lives are changing so fast," he says. "I wanted to be a fun resource – to play a non-school role – in their lives."
While at UW-Madison, he made sure to keep an element of fun in his library work, helping the school win a national championship with its Book Cart Drill Team. "There were just a small group of us who were interested in this," he admits. "We did formations and dance routines using book carts, choreographed to music. It's silly, but a lot of fun."
After graduation, he headed to the east coast, where he took on a position as a young-adult librarian, first in Ocean County, New Jersey, then in Washington, D.C. Along with Rollie Welch of the Cleveland Public Library, he writes a column called "ManUp!" for the Voice of Youth Advocates magazine, in which he discusses ways to get young men interested in public libraries and to make libraries more teen-friendly.
Rockefeller is no snob when it comes to literature. His own favorite reading material includes comics (especially X-Men) that he's kept track of since he was a teenager.
In late 2009, Rockefeller's job expanded to take on management of children's services as well as young adult.