For the past 6 months, since Julie Jurgens made her fateful — and fantastic — post, Ego, Thy Name is Librarianship the library corner of the internet has been talking about the fact that youth services librarians often get less respect and attention from and by professionals and professional organizations, although public library circulation and program numbers are often built on our backs. That alone is a good reason, a great reason, to support youth services programs and librarians. If you want other reasons, we’ve linked to some pretty telling studies on our advocacy page.
When the idea of Guerrilla Storytime took off, I advocated that we hold it in the UnCommons (for non-ALA goers, this is a public networking space in the middle of the ALA action) instead of in a closed space because I think we need to get out of the echo chamber. In the UnCommons, there would be all kinds of librarians who got to see that when we plan a storytime, we do it with intention, educational merit, and a lot of training (and sweating). We don’t just read books out loud to little kids (which is hard enough, dude, 40 3 year olds? You try keeping their attention). We are frontline early literacy warriors.
Guerrilla Storytime was a start, a fantastic way to integrate cross-training and advocacy while getting people enthusiastic and cultivating professional relationships. It wasn’t enough. I wanted to put together a group of passionate youth services librarians committed to advocating loudly by whatever means necessary, within the profession, for the importance of our work. I know ALSC does wonderful work, but I see a need for a different kind of advocacy, support and training, and I’m interested in starting something more grassroots. Something with more ability to color outside the lines.
To this end, my extraordinary co-bloggers and I have put together this website as a home base for the Storytime Underground, a place for Storytime Guerrillas around the world to gather, meet, plan, train, advocate for each other and support each other. On this site you will find a calendar to help facilitate the planning of Guerrilla Storytimes, an advice column for difficult storytime questions, tagged literacy resources with discussions of how and why they help children learn, archives of past projects and more. If you want to get involved with any or all of it, we will embrace you (probably literally). The only enlistment requirements are passion and a good wiggle song.
We are already changing the world. Let’s do the best possible job of it we can. Let’s make sure everybody knows about it.
Welcome to the Storytime Underground.