What I Wish I’d Known, Part 2- with Jaime!

This Friday, we’re bringing you another wise and wonderful post from our new friend, Jaime! Does anybody else think these attributes belong on our job descriptions and resumes? Happy Friday!


Mufidah Kassalias

What I Wish I’d Known: The Best Attributes of a Children’s Librarian

If you’re like me, you’re constantly trying to improve as a librarian. Sometimes this means seeking CE opportunities, but today I’m writing about something more abstract: the attributes of a “good” librarian. Taking ownership means recognizing and working on these intangibles, too. So, here’s my top ten best attributes of a YS librarian.


  1. Be adaptable. This is so much of your job. It can be fixing a program on the fly in response to your audience, or putting something together on the spot after a last-minute cancellation. It’s all about putting aside your own preferences in favor of what your patron wants or needs. There is no “typical” day – it always changes!
  1. Be approachable. It’s especially important when you work with kids. They’re often afraid to ask you a question, and it’s even harder if you’re completely absorbed in your work. If you have to work at the desk (and I know I do), at least try to pick projects that you don’t mind having frequently interrupted.
  1. Be attentive. Be attentive to the individuals who make your library great. Maybe that means spending a little extra time on a question, stopping to ask about a parent’s recent move, or helping a child find just the right book from a popular author. Be attentive to yourself and your commitments, too. I know it’s often impossible to get done everything we want in a day, and that’s okay. Know yourself to know what you need for success, and then make every attempt to give yourself what you need.
  1. Be enthusiastic. It’s impossible to be excited about everything (shelving nonfiction come to mind for me), but it’s important to be excited for the public. Make your storytimes and other programs your own, and make them something you can be excited about. At the end of the day, it’s your enthusiasm (or lack thereof) that people are most likely to remember.
  1. Be humble. No one is perfect or has all the answers. Ask for help when you need it (I know, it’s hard!). Rather than give out incorrect information, admit that you need help from time to time. I promise, even though it may not feel like it now, someday you’ll be the person sought out for help and advice – because you were willing to learn first. How cool is that?!
  1. Be innovative. Be willing to try new things. Sometimes it’s changing the way something has always been done. Sometimes it’s trying a new program. Sometimes it’s reorganizing a collection or moving materials. No matter what you’re doing, be innovative enough to dream it, flexible enough to change it, and brave enough to try it.
  1. Be proactive. What’s your next big thing? It could be advocating for something important to you, and seeking a grant to fund it. It could be partnering with another organization and getting your name out in the community. It could be solving a problem before anyone else notices it exists. It could be branching out to learn from others, or serving as a mentor to someone else. Find out what you need to be proactive about, and don’t be afraid to go out and do it.
  1. Be responsible. No one expects you to be right all the time or all your programs to succeed. They do expect you to take responsibility for what you do. Own your great accomplishments, but own your failures, too. People will know they can count on you. Make responsible decisions and be willing to stand behind them.
  1. Be tenacious. You might not know the answer right away, or even be sure where to start. Be willing to find the answer, track down information, hunt, ask others…then file it away for future use. Be willing to put in the extra effort to make that moment, experience, or program great. Go the extra mile.
  1. Be trustworthy. You’ll meet all kinds of people, often at their most vulnerable. They trust you to answer their questions. Be consistently kind and considerate, willing to help with each specific problem. Each time you go that extra mile, patrons learn they can depend on you.

I work on this list daily, and some come easier than others. I’m not perfect, but I always try to be my librarian self for my patrons. It takes work, dedication, and heart. What good things in life don’t? If you have characteristics to add to this list, I’d love to hear them! Why not help each other become the best librarians out there?

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