Jaye Jelier has dwelled in the realm of reading and writing throughout her career

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Jaye Jelier

Here is Jaye Jelier (far left) posing with her husband and three kids.

With a devotion to books, words, and everything under the scope of journalism, librarian Jaye Jelier has established a career in her passion for literature.

“I have a journalism degree from the University of Kentucky, and I was a journalist for 15 years,” Jelier said. “I’ve always been drawn to books and words, journaling and reading. [Being a librarian] seemed like a really good fit for me to switch over from being a journalist to kind of promote words and books.”

Growing up in a family of frequent, ardent readers contributed to Jelier’s love for literacy. Her reading then fed into her writing, therefore creating a foundation of her literature proficiency. This early introduction to the textual form of the English language left her with hobbies, which eventually led her to build coinciding careers as a journalist and librarian. 

“I have always loved to read,” Jelier said. “When I was a kid growing up, my parents were always reading. My dad loves reading Western books—his favorite books are complete old-school John Wayne Westerns. I grew up in a family that read a lot, so I started to read and journal. I think that [those hobbies] started [my literary passion] for me because they all [contribute] to the library.”

By starting out her journalism career at The Arizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix, Arizona, Jelier officially entered the world of words. Starting out as an entertainment writer, she was able to cover a variety of topics covering events, parties, film festivals, and concerts. This job allowed for a lot of leeway and zestful experiences to help her bolster her writing and skill—it was purely a gateway to enriching involvement in her community.

“I wrote about the fun in the Valley of the Sun, which is what Arizona’s communities are called,” said Jelier, in regards to writing for The Arizona Republic newspaper. “I would write about where to go and have fun. I would literally be at a rave promoting what people were doing there and just dancing to the music. Sometimes, I would write about short film festivals that students were putting on at Arizona State University. I also wrote about cool hikes and places to go salsa dancing—I don’t think there could have been a better job in the entire world.”

From that point in her career, writing had become an intrinsic part of Jelier’s life. Once she had moved past The Arizona Republic, The Grand Rapid Press newspaper Food Editor Position was the next stop. Her being the Food Editor resulted in a publishing deal for her very own cookbook.

“My publisher was the person who approached me, and I had never thought I’d be writing a book,” Jelier said. “She was the one who got the ISBN, my Library of Congress number. If you write a book, it’s a really big deal because if you have a publisher, the right to [the] book, and the paperwork, your book literally ends up at the Congress Library in Washington, D.C. It felt wonderful to know that I could go to D.C. and that the library card was connected to my book off the shelf.”

After the release of her own cookbook called “Tasting and Touring Michigan’s Homegrown Food: A Culinary Roadtrip,” written under her maiden name, Jaye Beeler, she amassed a collection of cookbooks from around the world. Her love for food writing integrates seamlessly into her personal life and career, so traveling and tasting the flavors of various cultures has been beneficial to her being—and cookbook collection—in numerous ways.

I’ve always been drawn to books and words, journaling and reading.”

— Jaye Jelier

“I still write a column for the Grand Rapids Magazine about food,” Jelier said. “Food writing is something that I’ve really loved, so one of the things that I do when I’m on vacation is adding to my cookbook collection. I’ve lived in a lot of cool places because my husband is a professor. We’ve lived in Moscow, Russia, London, England, and Sydney, Australia. I started collecting cookbooks and have a collection that is more than a hundred books. Almost every cookbook is from a place that I’ve gone and done something in.”

Because Jelier now works at the FHC library, she has free will over the book sections that live within it. With her bounty of cookbooks and food writing expertise, she wants to add a cooking and eating section to the FHC library to help students better understand food and meal-making before college and in general.

Going hand-in-hand with her support for the students, Jelier aims to be a guiding light for navigating the general world of books. Some students that enter the library are well versed in series and their preferred genres, while others have no concept of where to even start. The expansive sea of books breaking on the shore of the library can be quite the daunting setting to enter, but Jelier knows how to help students dip their toes into the waters of literature and the benefits of reading.

“One of the ways to expand your love for books is to challenge yourself to read topics that you generally wouldn’t read,” Jelier said. “If you don’t read bibliographies, read a bibliography. If you read different genres, I think it helps you process information and helps with all sorts of levels of intelligence because you are reading different people’s stories that change your approach to how you see things. Sometimes, I suggest books to people that maybe wouldn’t read that topic—I like introducing our collection.”

The librarian lifestyle accommodates Jelier’s needs perfectly—it provides a more laid-back position in the literary sphere so she can be with her family more often, as compared to her former journalist career. Working in the library lets her altruistic side flow, proved by her habitual diligence for the student body in terms of their reading endeavors. Altogether, Jelier excels in her role as a librarian—her efforts to help everyone love reading and grow their perspectives through books administers a sense of unity among the school and the overarching community. 

“My favorite part [of working in the library] is helping students discover reading,” Jelier said. “I have kids who come in and go, ‘Oh, I don’t like to read,’ or ‘I have to read for book love for 10 minutes. I don’t want to read.’ It’s awesome to have a kid read a book and come back and say, ‘I love this book. What else do you suggest?’ It’s just fantastic. Reading takes you on a journey. It takes you to someplace else. People could be reading about climbing a mountain or reading about an urban scene, so it takes you and introduces you to other topics and perspectives and persons.”