Interviews with librarians who work with children and teens in school and public libraries.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
My current job?
I’m happy to hold one of the best jobs in education—that of school librarian. I spent my first seven years as a middle school classroom teacher (reading, language arts, algebra, social studies, and science), but I didn’t find my true calling until I become a librarian eight years ago.
My first library gig was in an elementary school but it wasn’t long before I realized my middle school heart could not be broken and I found my way back “home” to Jefferson Middle School (Champaign, IL). I’ve completed my MLS and CAS at GSLIS (the best educational and professional experiences of my career) and earned National Board Certification in Library Media.
How do you stay current (in technology, literature, instruction, pop culture, etc)?
This is the hardest and most exciting part of my job. Staying current on all things tween can only happen one way. Work. I read constantly, I subscribe to tons of blogs—both book and professional, and I talk regularly with my nieces, nephews and the students at Jefferson. I even scan through the different teen magazines to attempt to stay current (trust me—this only takes a second because they all pretty much look the same).
How do I measure success?
It’s always nice when a teacher tells me I’m doing well, but my real test is feedback from students. Sometimes I ask the students directly and we have discussions about the library as a group or they complete short polls or surveys.
My favorite measure of success is the spontaneous one. My heart sings when I see a student jumping up and down because the sequel to a book they’ve been waiting for is in. Or when someone races up to tell me how much they loved the book I recommended and could I please, please help them find something else "just like it." And of course, it makes my day when I get an email or visit from a graduate that says they miss having me as their librarian. That’s a success.
What’s the worst part of my job?
Lost books. It makes me crazy.
Have some passive reader’s advisory tools available for student to look through (lists, read alikes, displays, etc). This is great for students who aren’t as excited about interacting with you as you are about interacting with them.
I pulled out my most popular genres into special collections. This makes it so much easier for kids to find the horror, mysteries and sports books. It also frees me to help students that really haven’t figured out what they want.
You probably won’t have a budget that will allow you to purchase everything you want. It was liberating when I stopped trying to purchase every book immediately and started waiting for paperback on some. I also do a better job of purchasing more of what I know kids will read and fewer of titles I think they should read.
How do I defy the librarian stereotypes?
I never, “Ssshhhh.” I love fashion, have tattoos and have happily sported a range of haircolors (pink, red, copper, blue, teal, purple…). And I try very hard to be helpful and friendly. Smile. Smile. Smile! I remember when I was just starting out and someone jokingly asked, “Well, how long before you become a b*@$%?” It struck a chord. I never want students or teachers to feel anything but welcome when they come into this space. Now, don’t mistake my perky nature for being a pushover because I’ll also fight tooth and nail for things the library needs.
What fictional character would you most like to be for a day?