Winter is OVER!

So far it looks like my spring is going to be filled more with administrative duties and committee work than fun programs with the babies and teens. Oh the joys of being in management! Just one more reason to be looking forward to Summer Reading time! I am on two committees this spring. Our director is retiring in the summer and I am on the hiring search committee for our new director. I’m also on the strategic planning committee, so lots of exciting changes are coming this year for my library! That rash of librarian retirements they promised us back when I was in library school is actually happening now (in my library anyway). We have had 4 positions retire in the past year, with probably about 4 more planned in the coming year. And yes, we are filling those open positions! So it has been fun to welcome great new people with new ideas and new energy.

In other news, I was able to attend PLA several weeks ago. I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about it yet. That week in Indianapolis was one of the most fun I’ve ever had! And I learned so much. My favorite sessions were Tinker With Technology and PlaySpaces in the Library. The Tinker Group is a group of librarians in the Chicago area who were all doing technology programs for kids and teens in their libraries and decided to have monthly meet-ups to share their ideas. Now they were taking their ideas to PLA to share with us all! I was so excited to leave the session with several ideas that I felt confident that I could implement, even with my limited money and skill!

The PlaySpaces session was equally inspiring. The Barrington Public Library staff shared pictures of their AMAZING new children’s room with us. It was really great and helped me think outside the box and dream big for my own children’s department. Then, thankfully, there were other presenters as well who talked about adding play to your library space on a smaller scale. I hope I have a chance to implement a lot of these ideas soon. But honestly, the best thing about PLA was the people.

Sherlock Holmes

I loved meeting and just being around so many public librarians from around the country, all of them as passionate about what they do as I am. It was such a great feeling! I am now dying to go to the next PLA in Denver in 2016! Here is a picture of me and my best library school friend hanging out with Sherlock at the Innovative Party Friday night. I also saw my boss dancing at that event – what moments to remember!



Librarian Problems

Okay, yes, I am naming this blog post after the hilarious tumblr page Librarian Problems. If you have not seen it yet you absolutely must check it out and I promise you will not be able to tear yourself away! Or, if you have never worked in a library, you won’t get it at all, and that’s just too bad for you.

As you can see, librarians do have a lot of problems, and it’s fun to make silly gifs about them, but one of our more serious problems is The Librarian Image. And this is also widely talked about on the interwebs. Find some great posts about it here and here (guess why this is my Lego-fanatic husband’s favorite one). There is even a Librarian Wardrobe tumblr page to combat our stereotypes and show regular librarians and what they wear.

Any time I introduce myself and my profession in a social setting people ALWAYS* say one of two things (likely both). “You need a Master’s Degree to do that?” or “What do you do all day?” Now, both of these questions are slightly offensive and I don’t think it’s just me. Do you go around asking Investment Bankers what they do all day? Because I would honestly really like to know that. But of course not, because the answer is “important business-y stuff” that no one questions. I understand that people are genuinely curious and want to know these things but every time I hear these questions I cringe a little inside because it conveys the message that the person I am talking to does not perceive my chosen profession, my passion, to have value.

I have been a professional librarian for a year and a half and it has been about five years since I decided to become a librarian, so you’d think in all that time I would have figured out the exact, perfect, pithy response when someone asks me these questions. I mean, it’s not like I never see them coming, right!? But alas, no such luck. Every time I am asked what a librarian does or why on earth I want to be a librarian, I feel like a bumbling fool as I try to explain myself. And this, children, is not a good thing. I need to stand up for our profession! If even I, a librarian, can’t explain it to people, why would our communities ever see the value in their libraries? And this is what advocacy is all about and why I need to be better at it.

Okay, so how’s this for a practice round?

“You need a Master’s degree for that?”

“Yes, all librarians have Master’s degrees but not everyone who works in a library is a librarian. My education has given me strong knowledge in early literacy and childhood development, research and reference skills, community outreach and partnerships, grant writing, new technologies, and management. I use the things I learned while earning my degree in library science every single day.”

“What do you do all day?”

“One of the things I love about my job is that everyday is different! I help people access and find information, I recommend books, help children with homework, select new books to purchase, and put on storytimes that teach early literacy skills for little ones and programs that give teens a safe place after school. I visit schools and read to children, I plan a Summer Reading Program every year to keep kids reading through the summer to fight learning loss. I talk about great books with middle school students to encourage them to read for fun. I do a wide variety of things every day and I love my job!”

*Unless I am talking to someone after my own heart, and these people generally say, “That sounds awesome! I wish I had your job!” Thank goodness for people in this category!

On the Hunt for a Job

Well, it’s an exciting and scary time around here. With graduation less than two months away, the job hunt is full under way. People love to give students job search advice. I think it’s probably because we really love to receive said advice. Our main goal in life is to find a job and in this economy and this job market, things can get pretty desperate. However, when there is too much advice on any one subject, a lot of it can start to sound pretty contradictory. Start applying for jobs early they say, but don’t apply if you aren’t available yet they say. Really all it comes down to is try to convey why you are right for the job.

There are some really fantastic job openings out there right now. I’m getting really excited about some of these. I read the job descriptions for children’s and youth services librarians and I just think to myself, that is the perfect job. I can’t wait until I get to be doing that every day! The other thrilling aspect of all this is thinking of all the different parts of the country I could be living in by summer. I seriously have no idea what state I’m going to be in next, and that is really exciting! I am so lucky that I am in a situation where relocating is an option. All the cities and areas I’ve researched sound like wonderful places to live. I just can’t wait to find out where the next stage of my journey will take me.

Presentation on Blogs for Children’s Librarians

On Friday I gave a presentation to my student organization: Social Networks and Blogs for Today’s Children’s Librarian. The title of our group is Children’s and Young Adult Library Services Student Organization. We call ourselves C-YA for short. My friend Amanda started the group last year when she saw a gap in our school’s options and opportunities for those interested in youth services. And luckily I get to be vice-president! It’s been an awesome year watching us grow as an organization! Hopefully soon we’ll be passing it on to another cohort of great students to continue the tradition.

For my presentation, I wanted to try using Prezi. It is an online presentation software that just recently entered my radar and I’ve been dying for an excuse to try it out. I was happy that our C-YA meeting was the perfect chance to do that. Prezi is a really cool departure from the slide-based metaphor of presentations. If you think about it, it really makes sense. How many outdated metaphors do we cling to long after they no longer make sense? Slide presentations when it’s been decades since anyone used an actual physical slide. Card catalogs when we’re no longer limited to those tiny 7.5 by 12.5 cm cards? When everything has moved online, it makes sense that we start letting some of those old ideas go.

Hence, Prezi. It isn’t your standard, linear, bullet point presentation. It zooms, it twists, it goes in circles, basically it flows. You can make a pretty good point that it more closely represents though processes, especially when it comes to brainstorming and creative planning and such. It shows connections and relationships. And really, who I am I kidding, it just looks really really cool.

So, in the spirit of emerging technologies (which is fitting considering my topic), I made a prezi. And you should totally click on the link above and check it out. You can even use it to start making your own. I had a lot of fun with it. While I’m sure I still have a lot to learn, for the most part it is really intuitive.

I had a lot of fun with the topic as well of course. I am really starting to get sucked into the blogging world and it is SO MUCH FUN! And much credit goes to Abby the Librarian and her wonderful blog. I got a lot of ideas from her CYPD handout on a similar topic, which she presented with Melissa from Mel’s Books and Info. Thank you so much! I just wanted to post the link today, more thoughts on this topic to come later this week, as well as my favorite blog discoveries so far!

Introductions are in order

My name is Allison McLean. I am a second year graduate student in a Masters of Library Science program. I am specializing in Children’s and Young Adult Library Services and this is a blog about my experiences as a new member of the library profession.

My hope is to find a job as a children’s librarian at a public library after I graduate this May, though I am open to all different types of libraries as well. I’m interested in reader’s advisory for young people and developing early literacy skills as well as information literacy and library instruction for library users of all ages.

I am currently an intern in an outstanding children’s department and gaining invaluable experiences in programming and reference work there. I have several jobs on campus as well, including supervising a library in the family and apartment housing on campus.

This blog will feature my thoughts and ramblings on my experiences leading up to graduation and looking for a job in the field as well as book reviews and other various topics I find interesting and relevant. I hope you keep reading and discovering this exciting world with me!