Monday, July 29, 2013

Miscellaneous Monday - The Power of Books

A couple weeks ago, while the hubby and I were out and about town, I received a text message from my dad’s cell phone.  I wasn’t certain it was from him, as my mom will sometimes text me from his phone instead of her own, depending on which is handier at the moment. The text asked about a book:

The princess and the goblin. A book. Started to read in the second, maybe third grade. Never got to finish it, had to turn it back in to the bookmobile. Could never find it again. Have u ever heard of it?

The name sounded familiar, but I wasn’t certain.  A quick search on amazon brought up a Victorian fairy tale by George MacDonald.  It is available as a free Kindle book (The Princess and the Goblin). I texted the info back and within moments my phone started ringing.

Photo from

My dad, who recently celebrated his 59th birthday, told me that he had started reading this book when he was young – perhaps in first grade.  The bookmobile would visit the Catholic school he attended.  Either the nuns at school or his mother at home had given him a fear of returning a book late, so he returned the book without finishing it.  Being a young child, he didn’t realize that he could renew the book or request it so he could check it out again.  Fast forward over fifty years and he is still thinking about the story and wondering how it ends.

How amazing is that? 

In libraryland we often talk how important books are in a child’s life.  We are asked to find books that a patron read and loved as a child, but can no longer recall the title or author.  My dad’s story is just one example of how the written word can stick with a person throughout his life.  Dad told me that over the years he would think about this book from time to time, wishing he could read it to the end. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Miscellaneous Monday - So, You Want To Be a Youth Librarian

I’ve wanted to do a post that takes the reader on a journey through my typical day at work. There are two reasons I have yet to do this. 1. I have found that I don’t really have the time to take photos for the post. 2. The few times I started a list of activities I was doing that day, I was soon so busy that I wasn’t able to write everything down. Usually the list was abandoned within three hours.  

 I am one of the lucky few who can say I love my job. I am a librarian. More specifically, I am the Assistant Manager of the Youth Services department at my library. I’m sure most who read that will just see the librarian part and assume I get paid to read books all day, with the occasional craft thrown in (if they noticed the youth part). My job is so much more than doing crafts and reading books.  

 While it is true that there are times when I do read on the job, usually I am reading picture books I have chosen for storytime. As for crafts, more often than not, I quickly put together a sample that will be used during a program. The library field often requires Master of Library and Information Science degree to be titled a librarian. I obtained this degree knowing that I would be required to do much more than read books and complete crafts.  

 So, what else do I do? I have many tasks to take up my time. Here is a sampling of those duties:

  • I research and prepare book lists, called bibliographies, for children of all ages.
  • As a youth librarian, I plan and present programs for children aged 3-18, though not all in one program! Conceivably I could plan and present programs for infants and toddlers as well, but we have others in my department who usually do those.
  • I order books, magazines, and audiobooks for teens for four of our seven locations. At one time I ordered those materials, as well as CD-ROMs, DVDs and music CDs for children aged 0-14 for five locations.
  • I attend conferences, workshops and webinars. Sometimes I even present at these events. Topics are of a wide variety, including readers’ advisory, database training, programming on the cheap, early literacy, and violence in the workplace. I’m expected to be an expert in most things related to youth. This goes beyond children’s and teen literature and includes cognitive development, education, literacy, trends, and interests.
  • The library is part of a community, which means it is important, as a youth librarian, to have a presence in the community. I visit schools and daycares, and facilitate their visits to the library. I must know what is happening in the communities of which our system is part – local, regional, state and national. For example, when a school closes its library doors, or drops art from its elementary curriculum, we strive to fill the gaps.
  • In keeping with being involved with the community, I serve on the board for a local chapter of a national literacy organization. Others in my library are active in local business associations, Kiwanis, Rotary, and similar organizations.
  • I maintain the youth collections. While I am directly in charge of the teen collections at four locations, I also help with weeding the children’s collections that my staff members maintain. This includes doing an inventory of materials, checking to see that the items are on the shelf and pulling those that need to be replaced and/or withdrawn.
  • I help to maintain the bulletin board and display decorations at one branch. This might not seem like a lot, but the bulletin board is the length of the children’s department…about one third of the building. It’s freakin’ long.
  • At all locations, reference and readers’ advisory questions take up a portion of the day. At some locations the questions often seem non-stop. Is your child looking for a book to read? Does little Taylor have a project due at school? If you visit my library when I am working, I will be there to help. If you are a teacher, I will help you find materials to use in the classroom.

These are just a few of the activities that fill my work week. I attend meetings, deal with staffing issues, observe others’ programs, answer emails, write grants and even assist at the circulation desk from time to time.

 When I get home from work, or during my lunch breaks, I use the time to read books, blogs, journals and other professional resources. I listen to audiobooks in the car and on my iPhone. Most of the books I read are written for people under the age of 18. These can easily be considered work related activities, but I very rarely do them on work time. Luckily, I enjoy this part of my field.  

 So that, in a nutshell, is what I do as a youth librarian.