Hello and welcome back! For this week’s Black History Month feature, we are going to be highlighting the ever-popular Kent Wade! Although many of us know Kent as the county’s “Library Guy”, we may not know exactly how he earned that nick-name. Well, look no further!
As Kent explains in episode 3 of Kankakee Podcast, his nick-name of “Library Guy” did not come to be simply because that is where he spent most of his time (albeit true), but more so because the library became his savior.
At the age of 17, Kent made the decision to drop out of highschool, which resulted in his sister – whose house he was residing at – kicking him out. Kent turned to the public library, where he was welcomed with warmness and generosity. Kent explains that library staff collected money to help buy him food and other necessities and the youth services director guided him to Kankakee Community College, where he enrolled in the GED program.
Later, Kent’s alias of “Library Guy” was fully solidified after he became part of the library’s staff. Even before he earned his GED, Kent worked at the public library through various roles and continued to be a part of the library’s team for several years.
Throughout his interview, Kent describes the public library as his “safe space”. He speaks not only of the impact the library had on his life, but also of the importance of advocating for our libraries and communities. When speaking about Kankakee county and the vitality of pursuing togetherness and inspiring positivity, Kent explains “we live in our own stories. What we can do, though, is if I control my narrative and you control your narrative, somewhere in that line, our narratives are going to cross. When great energies come together as we are controlling our narratives, we now have [the] opportunity to create another narrative as we move forward.”
Kent also gave us a glimpse into the birth of his t-shirt brand and personal motto, “Shake the Fear”. Kent describes this concept as the ability to embrace your battles rather than embracing your struggles, which is a life approach that Kent likes to focus on during his public speaking events.
Coming from a public librarian, thank you, Kent, for enlightening others on the magnitude of libraries, always advocating for our community, and sharing your life journey and motto with us. Your dedication to Kankakee county is truly seen and appreciated.
To learn more about Kent, purchase a “Shake the Fear” shirt, and view his public speaking services, please visit: https://iamkentwade.com/