Hello badass ninjas! Joint Chief here to ask a favor of you that’s personal but also professionally related. It’s a simple favor but requires a little back story: Lately, I’ve been rather depressed which stems primarily from my mom, who was one of my best friends, passing away a couple months ago from her battle with cancer. I was devastated but I went back to work soon after, mostly to get my mind off of things and also because working with my kiddos as a Youth Services Librarian helps me smile. It works well a lot of the time, I’m also fortunate to have amazing coworkers who are like my support group but the sadness always comes back in some shape or form. The other day, one of my regular families who I haven’t seen in a while, comes in and the dad asks me how things are. We chat whenever they’re in and we know a general overview of each other’s lives. I update him on my mom’s passing, he knew about her cancer, and he immediately drops the books he’s holding, tears up and asks if it’s ok to give me a hug and I oblige. His young kids don’t understand what’s happened but all three of his little girls hug me too. And it takes everything in me not to bawl like a baby, from sadness but also from happiness that this family, who only knows me from the maybe once-a-month transactions we have when they return their books and get new ones, cares about me in this way. It moved me in a way I hadn’t felt since my mom died and made me realize even more about why I love my job and what I do.
So, from this experience I was inspired to try and find a way for library folk to share why they love their job and to act as a reminder for all of us that even on our worst days, what we do makes an impact, changes our world for the better and that there are many a patron out there who genuinely appreciate us. It can be incredibly discouraging when your libraries are underfunded; when we’re underpaid or understaffed; when you may be having the absolute worst day/week/month/year because you don’t feel appreciated, respected or valued. Some days may be so bad that you want to quit the profession all together. But sometimes, it’s the smallest of things that remind us why we put up with all that we do: when a teen absolutely loved the book you recommended and seeks you out for more suggestions; when you help an unemployed patron apply for a job and they’re successful in their pursuit; when a group of kindergartners group hug bear tackle you because they’re so excited to see you for storytime; when a patron says some kind words, writes you a thank you note, or may even give you a hug when you need one (if you’re ok with it of course). These are the things that keep me going and I hope they do for you too.
In an effort to find solidarity between our unique or similar experiences and to remind ourselves and others how important our roles are as library professionals, I ask you a small favor of you all: to share your own stories as you experience them and to simply tag the post with a #ilovemylibraryjob hashtag. This way someone who may be feeling uninspired or discouraged or cynical can search the tag and find some heartwarming stories, enough to give them to hope that tomorrow will be a better day and pick themselves back up. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever social media platform you prefer, if you don’t mind adding the hashtag any time you’d like to share, I believe it can help unite our stories, no matter how big or small, to bring us together as a profession and as a community.
So to the family who warmed my heart with a simple hug, thank you. You reminded me of why #ilovemylibraryjob. Thank you so much for your kindness.
And thanks for listening ninjas, I’m very much looking forward to hearing your own stories.