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Meet Jamie Kallestad

Q: Jamie, what do you do at the Watertown Free Public Library? I'm the Communications and Design Specialist. We have a very busy Library here in Watertown — one of the busiest in the state in fact! Our staff are always coming up with new programs, new resources, and adding new materials to our circulating collection.

It’s my job to package this deluge of information and share it with Watertown via newsletters, PR, social media, advertising, flyers, and so on. I designed a billboard on Roue 20 / Main Street for the Library this spring, that was a really fun project.

Q: What drew you to working in Libraries? Shortly after I moved to Watertown, I became a big fan of the Watertown Free Public Library. I was working for a non-profit organization in Brookline at that time. I really wanted to work in my own community, so when I learned about an opening at my favorite place in Watertown, I applied. I never planned on a career in Libraries, but I am so glad that I landed here. I enjoy meeting people who live in my community, and blowing their minds by introducing them to free materials and resources!

Q: What WFPL project are you most proud of? I'm proud to be part of the planning team for Watertown Zine Fest, an annual event our Library launched in 2021.

What’s a zine, you ask? Well. Zines are hand-made pamphlets or magazines – a DIY medium of expression and information-sharing that's been embraced by the younger generation.

My colleague Carey Conkey-Finn had the vision to create the Library’s first circulating zine collection, inviting local creators and Watertown residents to add their stories to our Library shelves. Now, with co-leadership from WFPL librarian Allie Fry and participation from our super talented staff, WFPL hosts Watertown Zine Fest every year.

The fest is an opportunity for longtime creators and brand new folks to get together and celebrate the colorful, inspiring world of zines. It’s one of the most innovative programs our Library runs, consistently attracting young people and first-time visitors.

As part of my job, I get to work with illustrators, indie publishers, and our own “street team” to promote this event. I was thrilled when Watertown News, The Boston Compass, and the Boston Globe covered the event in 2021 — a trifecta of local, counter-culture, and big mainstream PR! Hundreds attended the 2021 fest and more came the following year.

In 2022, the American Library Association (ALA) awarded WFPL the John Cotton Dana Public Relations Award in recognition of our zine fest marketing campaign. (The New Yorker calls this award “the equivalent of a library Oscar.”) We’re still glowing from that moment in the spotlight but we’re also working hard on the next event.

I hope you can join us for the third-annual Watertown Zine Fest this Saturday, October 14!

Q: What’s the best thing you’ve borrowed from WFPL? An umbrella! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to check the weather in the morning and ended up with a rainy walk home from work. Since WFPL launched the Library of Things, I can now borrow an umbrella at five and return it the next day. There are always plenty of extras. I’m glad we have a library that lends all sorts of useful items, in addition to books.

Q: OK, what is your favorite Watertown pizza? I’ve tried most of them, but Stella’s on Mt. Auburn is my favorite. It’s an institution here for a reason. They make a fantastic pie!


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