Sunday, January 26, 2014

Damn kids, get on my lawn! Seriously, I have candy...

The hardest thing about being a YA librarian is coming to terms with the fact that the job will most likely not go the way you have it planned out in your head. I run a YA book club every month and have just attempted to launch a writing workshop for high school students. In my head, this is what I imagine these programs will look like:


This is the reality:

It's hard to not wonder what it is I'm doing wrong. Even knowing the following things:

  • Teens are busy. They have 8 million non-optional obligations. 
  • Teens in 2014 have a hell of a lot more distractions than teens in 1997. 
  • The teens who are really passionate about reading and writing might be introverted enough to feel uncomfortable with group dynamics.
My mom signed me up for a writing workshop when I was in high school. I liked writing. I loved reading. But every meeting was an hour long panic attack and I eventually stopped going. I wonder how many teens there are who have the same issue - love the idea, hate the people.

I also wonder how many teens just don't care. Does reading and writing for fun even register anymore? I feel like I'm barking up the wrong program tree. I could put together the best, most fun, most comprehensive reading and writing program in the world and if teens aren't interested, they aren't going to show up.

It's hard not to feel discouraged. It's hard to muster enthusiasm for programming you have to put on when you know it will be poorly attended or not attended at all. It's hard not to think you are doing something fundamentally wrong.

So, what's the solution? I subscribe to every relevant listserv and website newsletter, but I can't help but think of all those things treat teenagers like they're these exotic animals that aren't quite human. I feel like the best way to treat them is like regular effing people. But that means luring them into the library in the first place...

I don't know what the solution is. Maybe I am doing something or everything wrong. Maybe I'm creepy and old. Maybe I'm way too excited about things that don't matter anymore. I just don't know.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Re-focus, Re-purpose, Resume

I need to pay more attention to this blog. To that end, maybe it's time to expand the scope of what I discuss here. I love my job as a librarian but being a librarian is more than loving books. I mean, that's a huge part of it, but there are a million more things involved with hanging out in a giant book house all day.

The problem though is I don't know all of the million more things that come with being a librarian. I'm learning every day. I'm succeeding every day. I'm failing every day.

I'll tell you guys a secret. I'm not actually a librarian. I don't have an MLS and I never went to library school. I'm not even sure how I got my job, except that maybe I was so adorable that the director couldn't say no. My experience previous to getting hired at my library has been in fine arts administration/management with some teaching of English lit. and composition. I also wrote a couple of plays once. But, I don't have any fancy library school learnin' and according to some, that makes me a para-professional library worker as opposed to a librarian.

My thoughts in regard to that are this: I do have an MFA in creative writing. However, I don't go around telling writers that they can't call themselves writers if they don't have a degree in creative writing.
By that logic, this lady would not be a writer.
I know I have a lot to learn, but I spend 40 hours a week split between the reference desk and my own desk where I work on teen programming. In a library. Maybe I should make up my own title for what I do. If I can't be a librarian, the term "reference artist" has a nice ring to it.

I have also been a sandwich artist.

I'm also a baby-brarian. I've only been in my position for a little more than a year and 10 months of that time was spent preparing and moving our collection to a brand new facility. I'm finally just now getting to do fun stuff.

I make a lot of mistakes. I hate that about myself. I take pride in doing things right the first time, but real life doesn't always work that way. When life doesn't work that way, I want to punch it in the neck. I should probably get over that.

So, here we are. Same blog, different... focus? I'm still going to do book reviews. I love books - that will never change. But I plan on also exploring the mistakes I make as a reference artist and para-professional teen services library worker. There might be a lot of whining here and a lot of questions and a lot of uncertainty. But maybe once in a while, I will get something right too.

P.S. For the protection of those I work with and for, I'll be keeping names secret and specifics to a minimum. But my entries will be mostly about me anyway. And my quest for a pet library goat.