Day in the Life of a Youth Librarian

Thursday, February 30, 2014

8:30: Arrive at the library, open blinds, turn on computers, and feed the fish. Start pulling the holds list for the Children’s Room. It’s a long one today. Someone requested lots of fox books. They look like fun!

9:00: The library opens and I’m still pulling holds. I help some families get on the computers. There is a 2-hour school delay this morning so people are here to fill those extra morning hours. But after many days off school, kids are finally going back to school today. I love to see our AWE Early Literacy Station always in use.

9:30: Some parents come in looking for some Magic Tree House books for their son and all the titles they want are checked out so I help them put 5 or so of the books on hold. I start replying to an email reader’s advisory question for young adult books. I love reader’s advisory challenges like this one!

10:00: A co-worker who is on vacation comes in and we work on some scheduling issues. Our region’s Mock Caldecott was postponed due to the crazy winter weather so now we have to work out who can go and what programs we have that day, etc. We also chat about the Youth Media Award winners since we haven’t seen each other since the announcements.

10:40: I spend twenty minutes practicing the ukulele for my debut performance at baby storytime next week. I am learning “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “If You’re Happy and You Know it” I am still building up calluses and strength in my wrist, so twenty minutes is still about all my poor hands can handle.

11:00: I work on approving and sending book orders while also answering several requests for popular titles like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Llama Llama. It’s so much fun to select the new books for the collection and think about our patrons and want their wants and needs are.

12:00: It’s time for lunch.

1:00: I check in a couple bins from our deliveries from our branch locations. This and a request for a particular book about the states keeps me busy for most of the hour. The 50 states book proved to be a bit of a challenge to find because the patron did not remember the name and it turned out to be not in the 973’s with the other state books but in 917 with geography books. Oh, the imperfections of the Dewey Decimal system.

2:00: Time for a shift on the information desk! I get many, many tax questions and repeat myself several times. “Sorry, the forms we have out are what we have. We are still waiting on more from the state/IRS.” And, “No, I cannot give you tax advice, but we do have a great volunteer organization here Monday, Wednesday, and Saturdays to offer free tax aid!” All offered with a smile, of course. I’m so glad we are able to provide this important service for our community.

3:00: Back on the children’s desk. A young girl is participating in Read Away the Fines and is such a fast reader, I am up and down helping her find her next book to read. I am really impressed with her knowledge of picture books, as she asks me for specific titles and authors like Kevin Henkes,¬†Extra Yarn, and¬†Skippyjon Jones. She and her sisters end up reading for so long they each get almost $5.00 waived from their cards!

4:00: I check in with the Young Adult area and talk to some of my regular teens who are participating in the CSLP Teen Video Challenge. We need to discuss our next meeting time to start working on making and collecting props. It’s almost time to start filming. I’m getting pretty excited, and the best part is, I can tell our teens are too!

4:30: I answer a few emails about our first annual Battle of the Books competition, pull a couple book ideas for baby storytime, and before I know it it’s 5:30 and time to go home!

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Introducing: My Library Superheroes!

Being a youth services librarian is wonderful and glorious and truly my dream job. But it can also feel a little isolating, especially in my current position. It is my first professional librarian position and I am a Department Head and I am the only MLS Librarian in our 4-person department. We have an excellent MLS Librarian who is the branch children’s librarian and he is fantastic and I am so lucky to be working with him. But in the day in, day out everyday librarian life of mine, here in my building, it’s just me.

This is why I am so excited this week to see the discussion that started over on Storytime Underground about developing a Personal Learning Network. Anne Clark, one of the founders of Flannel Friday, wrote a fantastic post about her journey finding her PLN through social networking. And it really has me inspired. Gosh, I need to start using this Twitter thing! And hmmm, how can I get more people to read my blog? So when I commented that I felt like a shy lurker sometimes and then the amazing Melissa Depper (who has been a lifesaver when I plan my baby storytimes and had a fantastic webinar recently on the CLEL Bell Awards) wrote a post on her blog directed to all the lurkers like me, it really got me thinking. There is no better time than now to put myself out there and make connections with the people I admire. It is so freaking cool that we have the ability to do that these days. With the internet and twitter and all the social networking tools we have, literally anyone is just a comment or a tweet away.

I just have so many GOALS and so many huge ambitions that sometimes I feel like I can never possibly achieve all the things I want to achieve. So I am taking this opportunity to remind myself that it’s okay. I’ve only been a librarian for what, a whole year and a half! Of course I’m not going to be on the Newbery or Printz committee right away or have twenty articles published in School Library Journal. But if that’s something I really want to do, then I can make that goal and maybe in 10 years or even 5 years these dreams can become reality. Which is why I also totally appreciated Miss Julie’s post on Self Worth and youth librarians. We are an awesome group of people! We shouldn’t let the system get us down! Instead we should be helping each other and bringing each other up and this is totally what I’m seeing online and I’m absolutely loving it!

So today I’m going to have a shoutout to all my librarian heroes and role models and say I really admire what you are doing. You guys are all awesome and you inspire me with your ideas and your enthusiasm and love of what you do everyday. I wouldn’t be half the librarian I am without all your marvelous examples! (And be forewarned, the list is pretty long!)

  • Suzanne Walker, our Indiana State Children’s Consultant! On Twitter @suzieecw and with her awesome YouTube channel. We have our AWE Early Literacy Station thanks to Suzanne and just this week she gave us a RockStar Start Up kit with a guitar AND a ukelele so we can learn how to play in our storytimes! She also did a fantastic SRP workshop for us, has lego kits, book club kits, and so, so many more resources for youth librarians in Indiana!
  • I have been a fan of Emily Ellis since I heard her speak at CYPD and she won the Library Journal Movers & Shakers award. I love her blog and videos at The Librarian Way with High School librarian Julia. So much good advice on being a teen librarian and lots of fun pop culture and book stuff too!
  • With STEM and STEAM the hot topics that they are, I’m so glad to have Amy Koester at The Show Me Librarian to literally show me how to incorporate science into my library programs! Amy is, of course, also one of the founders of Storytime Underground which I still think is one of the best things to happen on the internet, ever.
  • And I could not write this post without mentioning my library school class! We had such a great time in our youth literature courses, we just had to continue the fun and keep in touch after graduation! So we started a Mock Printz book club and chat on Google Hangout every couple weeks and it is SO MUCH FUN! Ann, Kelsey, Maggie, Liesl, Eyal, you guys rock!

Toddlers and Teens

Baby sitting indoors with block smilingMy job is fun because I get to work with kids on both ends of things. I get to do our infant and toddler lapsits with the youngest of our patrons, and then on the upper ends of things I do all the teen programs too. I like to think it keeps things lively and gives me a lot of variety in what I do day-to-day. But there are times when I think working with toddlers and working with teens really aren’t too different. I thought I’d share a few of the similarities I’ve discovered between these age groups.

  • Group of Teenage GirlfriendsThey can be loud, messy, and leave chaos in their wake.
  • They might feel awkward and unstable in their bodies. Toddlers are just learning to walk and frequently tumble over. Teens, well everything is changing, of course it’s awkward!
  • Their emotions are all over the place; they can be laughing one minute and sobbing or throwing a tantrum the next.
  • They are pushing boundaries and exploring their limits. Toddlers are learning to say “NO!” and express themselves. Teens do almost the same thing when they try to see how much they can get away with.
  • They are learning to be independent and want to do things themselves.
  • They are expanding their horizons and learning about the world!

Working with these age groups really requires you to be flexible and embrace the chaos. I remember one of my first lapsit program and the terrifying feeling that things were slipping out of my control as toddlers wandered about the room and all my structured plans fell apart. I’ve gotten much better at adapting since then and I feel so lucky to be able to work with groups of kids who keep me on my toes. They are at such an exciting time of growth in their lives, it is marvelous to watch them learn and grow, even if it can be tumultuous at times!