Social Media Coordinator Passionate about Sharing Library’s Story

Lisa Allen’s writing career has been a journey of discovery with a rich range of experiences: reporting human interest profiles for Johnson County magazines; creating blog posts and marketing copy for business professionals; getting published in three anthologies and various literary journals; even ghostwriting countless dating profiles.  

More recently, on the Johnson County Library staff since 2019, she has helped provide the online content to champion the Library Writers Conference presenters.

She also earned not one but two degrees, in creative nonfiction and poetry, from the Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College in Boston.

All those literary skills will be put to good use as Allen takes on a newly-created Library position: Social Media Coordinator. 

As community-building becomes ever more important, Allen will help tell the story of all that Johnson County Library has to offer, on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media platforms.

“I see social media as part of the tapestry of the communications work that we do,” Allen said. “It’s an entry point for a lot of people to be introduced to the Library for the first time, or to be reintroduced to the Library. That’s what excites me, being part of creating and sustaining a voice that makes people want to stay in the Library.” 

She will help coordinate messaging that is informational but also “welcoming and fun” and “maybe a little sassy sometimes.” 

It’s a group effort. “We have a fantastic team of social media contributors who work at various branches,” she said. “They send in great pictures and creative and timely ideas for posts.” 

Library patrons are already curious and enthusiastic, and social media enhances those interactions. For example, the Library’s weekly Facebook post, “What are you reading this weekend, friends?” elicits thoughtful reader responses and exchanges. 

With so many social media tools, Allen says, the opportunities to expand those conversations and healthy dialogue are compelling.

Allen grew up in Hays, Kansas and has fond memories of curling up with books in a makeshift castle in the town’s library. She attended college, married and had two sons in Chicago. But she wanted to be closer to family, so she and her husband moved to Olathe in 2001. They had a third child and later divorced. 

As a single mother, Allen held several jobs, but a local businesswoman recognized her writing talent and encouraged her to start her own writing/editing business. One highlight was creating dating profiles for eight years for 

“It was fascinating and so much fun,” Allen recalls. “In any given day I could write for a truck driver and a neurosurgeon and a stay-home mom, and all of them had to sound like that person.” 

She also developed her own distinctive voice. An essay she wrote about her dad was included in Putnam’s 2015 anthology, Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now.

That’s when she reached out to Johnson County Library Reference Librarian Helen Hokanson, asking about a book signing. The Library doesn’t do book signings, but Allen and Hokanson hit it off. Allen was thrilled to be in conversation with Abigail Thomas to kick off the 2016 Writers Conference and presented a workshop on profile writing.  

She joined the Library staff as an information specialist and loved assisting patrons. She stayed active with the Library’s local writers committee, organizing the social media plan for the 2021 and 2022 Writers Conferences. 

So when the social media coordinator position was posted, she was excited about the opportunity to magnify public awareness and engagement with the Library.   

“One of our core visions is connection,” Allen says. “I think of this as another way to reach folks who need or want what we do.”