Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What's it take to be a good...nay, a GREAT librarian?

That was a question posed to me today in an email. Rather, it was more, "what are some tips to being a good high school librarian?" and I thought about it, and thought about it...and these are what I think (emphasis added). You may or may not agree with me, this may even make you mad...but I mean every word I say...

Number One: First and foremost - SHOW NO FEAR because really, there isn't anything to be afraid of!
I don't know how many times librarians in younger grades have expressed a feeling of trepidation when walking into the high school library during the day for a district meeting or other gathering for librarians. WHY?!? They're just older kids, but with a little more attitude. Believe it not, some still like to hug you hello, and others like to give Christmas presents or make homemade cards for your birthday. But overall, they're wanting and needing guidance - maybe not as much as little bitties, but it's still a need. Which leads to...

Number Two: Be accessible and be real! If there is one thing teens know how to do, it's to see through a guise. If you hate teens, PLEASE find another job! Why in the world librarians would want to work at a high school and keep kids out of it is beyond me, and I don't care how young or old they may be. What the heck?!? And it's those attitudes that help perpetuate the "librarians don't do anything" persona. This goes hand-in-hand with...

Number Three: High school librarians need to be inventive! Even more so than elementary. Why? Because, believe it or not, we don't spend the majority of our day reading to little ones and shelving books, working in a fixed schedule environment with little to no help. We have flex schedules and sometimes may not even see a class in a day. So what to do with that time? I'm not going to give a list, but SPEND IT WISELY. We can all say we're soooo busy, but come on... everyday? Even I have slow days, but I find something to enhance the library, the books, the classroom, work with teachers, be involved with professional associations etc...and then there are the times when I get to read. Aaaaahhhhhhhh, the best part of my profession, which leads to -

Number Four: READ! Simple directive, but makes a difference. HUGE difference. Why in the world would anyone want to be a high school librarian and not read books? It's about connections, and connecting kids with books, especially students who are going through a stage when YOU (the librarian) has to struggle against athletics, academics and taking and passing the almighty test to graduate to even get a student to pick up a book and read. THAT is the challenge, and if you're not up to it, then you need to start right now (and I recommend you pick up the book Read-icide as the first professional resource book to read)

Number Five: Network, share, learn, be passionate, and take time for yourself. Sometimes I get sick and tired of reading...do you? My nature is to be quiet, alone, and isolated (and if you know me, you're laughing, but it's the truth!) To be your personal best takes effort, willingness and time professionally, but to be your best also means taking the time and effort to surround yourselves with things outside the library as well. And who knows? Maybe those other passions will transcend themselves into something useful and creative in the library world!

And Finally: Always be there for others first. We are a consumer-driven position. We are there to help others first, either through technology, books, in the classroom, relationally - all of the above. When we put others first and help them out, the library, our profession, our value in the scheme of things, blossoms...

4 comments:

Mary said...

I like your attitude!! Being a great librarian is about all those things plus some. The list is endless. . . . but you've got a great start.

naomibates said...

I agree Mary : ) It's a work in progress and before writing this, I also looked at what other librarians had to say. A whole blog for everyday could be dedicated to just this topic!!

Coffeegrl said...

I love this list! I wish people weren't so afraid of high school students. I know that they can appear to be big and intimidating sometimes (a lot bigger than a 1st grader!) but appearances can be (and often are deceiving!). I love spending time with teens and look forward to the day that I can work in a library setting with teens!

Bridget said...

Fantastic post. I have another for your list. Really listen to your teens. Buy what they want you to buy. You don't know what they want if you don't hear what they say. I love your blog, you really connect with your students. We do this job for them, not for ourselves.