Please describe your position. Your title, duties, an average day in your work life.
I am a youth services librarian but am in charge of the school services. So I do the regular storytimes, desk work, ordering and RA, etc… but also teacher-y stuff. For school services, I do teacher resource bags, handle the teacher school cards, research and present CE workshops for teachers, team teach, host school field trips, create a teacher newsletter, etc. For YS services, I do baby storytime for 3-15 months, family storytime, 2-K, and 4-K storytime. I did the Kid Coders program for 4th-6th grade, Appy Hour for teachers, and Battle of the Books for 4th-8th graders. So, there is a lot of lesson planning, tech geekery, and research.
What attracted you to your current position? Was it an intentional move, a gut feeling, a happy accident, or a matter of convenience?
I was looking for school services positions because I just got off the teaching track. I like working with students and helping them research and learn, but I didn’t like all the school drama and bureaucracy. I like to get stuff done. My aunt teaches 1st grade in the area and she told me about it because she worked with my predecessor. It’s nice to have an insider giving you advice, like, “[name] did this last year and this is what the teachers thought of it, so you should do this.”
What things give you the most joy in your position?
I love working with teachers and students in the schools. It’s nice to form a great relationship with them and then be able to give them supplemental materials and team teach with them right when they get into a unit. They’re like, “You read my mind! I would love a text features lesson on landform books!” (Sounds intriguing, right?) I also love baby storytime. I want to eat them up. I also like geeking out and doing readers’ advisory. The kid usually has a stack of 10 books and is slowly backing away from me while I jump up and down.
What’s most challenging for you?
I get things done pretty fast, so I don’t like waiting around on big projects that have to go through multiple people. It makes me jumpy. I usually multi-task to distract myself from the waiting. Like, waiting for your song handouts to get back from graphics? Make nametags.
If this is not your last career move, where would you like to go from here?
Eventually, I would like to be a department head. I am an INFJ (go Meier’s Briggs!) and sometimes it frustrates me when I see good things a library can be and they’re not trying to be there yet. I have a strong vision of libraries and I want to help people make the most of the library so the community can benefit. People shouldn’t just go to the library to get a book, it should become part of the community itself. I also want to get more involved in professional development. I love it. I do CPDU workshops for our local teachers, I host SU’s local Chicago social chapter, I present at conferences, I’m writing lesson plans for the Library of Congress. I’m trying to convince RAILS and ISLMA to do cool professional development with me. It’s fun. It’s like teaching, but without all the parent phone calls.
Pretend I’m a brand new library professional, eager to figure out how to get your job. What’s the advice you’d give me?
You have to work on your own professional development. I am a school services librarian but I do all youth services tasks. It helps that I have a couple of teaching certificates, so I have the education background to know lesson planning, curriculum development, all the many standards, etc… so that I know what teachers are talking about and they are confident that I understand them. Make a feed of library blogs that help you. Do the Storytime Underground University if you do storytimes (which I’m assuming you do, because you are reading this blog). Go to conferences. Submit conference proposals. And resubmit them. Meet people at conferences or Storytime Underground Local Chapters (wink wink Chicago). Take webinars.
If you are doing school services, there is a great site, edweb.net that has free webinars on education topics (early literacy, team teaching, leadership, Common Core, Next Gen, etc…) and they give CEs for educators. I’m a geek, so I do a lot of research and tinker around with lesson plans.
Read a lot. You don’t have to, and obviously can’t, read every book in the library, but the more you do, the more you’ll get a feel for the different genres, reading levels, appeals and what’s popular to recommend to kids (I love Novelist’s Appeals Chart). Ask to write reviews and/or articles for professional journals. Right now, I’m in Library Sparks and Booklist (come on School Library Journal!).
Keep a blog for yourself on what you do. You want to share your abilities with others so they can hire you and learn from you, but you also want to reflect and learn from your past programs and other library activities. It helps make you better at your job. You could also take my ALSC Online Course, It’s Mutual: School & Public Library Collaboration J. http://www.ala.org/alsc/its-mutual-school-and-public-library-collaboration