Podcast Episode 67: Libraries and COVID-19 (and YA Books) with Kelly Jensen

Libraries and COVID-19


In Episode 67, Kelly Jensen of Book Riot shares what she learned from a survey of librarians about how they’re managing through COVID-19, ripple effects of COVID-19 on libraries moving forward, and the huge cost differential for libraries to acquire digital books (e-books and audiobooks) vs. print books.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).


  • The many things libraries do beyond lending books.
  • What Kelly learned from the librarians’ survey she did this summer.
  • How libraries can support students this Fall with so many schools learning virtually.
  • How librarian’s jobs have changed due to COVID-19.
  • The clutter of virtual book content right now and attendance levels at libraries’ virtual programs.
  • Creative things libraries have started doing during COVID-19 (i.e. Library book bundles).
  • The surprising thing Kelly saw in the survey results.
  • Libraries quarantining books between lends because of COVID-19.
  • Librarians being repurposed into different roles to help with COVID-19 (including as contact tracers).
  • COVID-related icebergs that might have big ripple effects on libraries moving forward.
  • How library budget cuts could end up looking.
  • The cost for libraries to acquire digital books (e-books and audiobooks) compared to print books.
  • The logistics of libraries acquiring e-books.
  • Publishers changing the terms of how libraries can acquire e-books during COVID.

Kelly’s Book Recommendations [37:50]

Two OLD Books She Loves

Two NEW Books She Loves

One Book She DIDN’T LOVE

One NEW RELEASE She’s Excited About

Last 5 Star Book Kelly Read [50:40]

Other Books Mentioned

Other Links

About Kelly

Kelly JensenWebsite | Instagram | Twitter

Kelly Jensen is a former teen librarian who worked in several public libraries before pursuing a full-time career in writing and editing. Her current position is with Book Riot, the largest independent book website in North America, where she focuses on talking about young adult literature in all of its manifestations. Before becoming a fully-fledged adult-like person, she worked in the swanky Texas Legislative Library entering data into a computer while surrounded by important politicians, scooped gelato for hungry college students, and spent hours reading, annotating, and scanning small-town Texas newspapers into a giant searchable database.

Her books include Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World (Algonquin Young Readers, February 2017) a collection of art, essays, and words from over 44 voices. (Don’t) Call Me Crazy is a collection of art, essays, and words to launch a powerful and important conversation about mental health. It was named a best book of 2018 by the Washington Post and earned a Schneider Family Book Award Honor for distinguished representation of the disability experience. Both books are published by Algonquin Young Readers, which will publish her third anthology Body Talk, a collection about the physical and political nature of the human body, in Fall 2020. She cohosts the popular YA book podcast Hey YA with Eric Smith and is a regular cohost on Book Riot’s All The Books podcast with Liberty Hardy. Kelly also writes the twice-weekly “What’s Up in YA?” newsletter for Book Riot, which reaches nearly 60,000 inboxes. 

Kelly lives in Illinois with her husband, her bunny, and five needy-but-awesome cats. In her free time, she is a certified yoga teacher, writes for her personal blog STACKED (stackedbooks.org), volunteers for Young At Heart, drinks a lot of tea, and practices photography. Some of her favorite things include churro smashmallows, black licorice, adoring eyelashes on various animals (giraffes are the best, obv), fusing glass, spending too many hours in bookstores, debating the best seltzer in the world’s best secret seltzer Facebook group, and owning as much Halloween decor as possible.

Her writing has been featured on Bustle, in Bust Magazine, at The Writer’s Digest, The Huffington Post, at Rookie Magazine, The Horn Book, BlogHer, School Library Journal. She contributed an essay and a guide to teen sexuality in pop culture for Amber J. Keyser’s The V-Word: True Stories of First-Time Sex and is the author of the book It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader from VOYA Press.

Kelly is happy to discuss possibilities for professional speaking, editing, and/or writing opportunities, in person or online. You can learn more about her, her background, and her passions in this interview.

She is represented by Tina Dubois at ICM Partners and can be reached at kelly@stackedbooks.org.

Next Episode

There will not be a new episode next week since the podcast is on a bi-weekly schedule.

The following week, there will be a full length episode featuring Eilene Zimmerman, author of Smacked: A Story of White-Collar Ambition, Addiction, and Tragedy (airing October 14).

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