Hi, Miss Julie’s Loves of Librarianship

  1. Libraries are for everyone

  2. Everyone benefits from libraries, whether they use them or not

  3. Make every interaction delightful, wherever it happens

  4. A degree does not a librarian make

  5. Every library its community, and every community its library

Libraries are for everyone

Libraries are for everyone in your community, whether they are homeless, trans, on the spectrum, divorced, high school dropouts, PhD students, or whatever else.

Libraries are places where all lives really matter, and we prove that we believe that statement by holding  open discussions on race in America, creating Transgender Resource collections, having police officers interact with the public within our walls, and putting up Black Lives Matter displays.

We remove financial barriers such as fines and fees whenever possible, and make getting, having, and using a library card as frictionless as possible.

Our programs are inclusive and we strive to make accommodations whenever required.

Our collections reflect our communities both as they are and as they aspire to be. Everyone in our community, especially children, should see themselves reflected in our collections, and also have ample opportunity to experience stories from those who are unlike themselves.

Everyone benefits from libraries, whether they use them or not

Rich old white man who continually writes articles about how no one uses libraries anymore–please shut up. People who aren’t you use libraries all the time, and the information, education, and sense of belonging that they gain from those visits ultimately benefits our whole society, even you.

You’re welcome.

Make every interaction delightful, wherever it happens

We strive during each reference interaction, every readers’ advisory session, every storytime, every program, through every online social interaction or email, to delight and inspire our users. We waive fines for the single mother who doesn’t want to go back out to her car in the rain to get her credit card, and the smile of relief on her face is worth so much more than her small fine; we bring stacks of books to a reluctant reader and let them know that while these are some of our favorite books, our feelings won’t be hurt if they hate them all–because we really want them to find their next (or first) favorite book; and when first grade teachers tweet about how their students are learning to write letters, we tweet back and ask for one, and send one in return.

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A degree does not a librarian make

An MLIS can be a wonderful thing. It can also be an expensive piece of paper that never really ends up making you good librarian, or gets you a job that allows you to pay off its cost before you die.

When I define librarian, I’m definitely more Urban Dictionary than Webster’s Dictionary (I  still love ya, Webster). If you must, I suppose you can make the distinction of degreed librarian or put MLIS at the end of your email signature…but in the end, I don’t care. Are you passionate about stories, regardless of medium or delivery method? Are you insatiably curious and demand answers, even for questions posed by others? Do you consistently post Snopes links on your friends’ facebook pages? Do you currently or have you ever worked in a library and brought joy to those who received service from you? Congratulations–if you want to refer to yourself as such, you have my permission to call yourself a librarian.

Every library its community, and every community its library

While everyone can use every library, libraries should begin and end with their immediate communities. Not only does this make practical sense–the community’s taxes are at work within your budget, after all–it makes everything else easier.

I attended a workshop recently about design thinking for libraries, and while I can’t encapsulate everything I learned here, I do want to share a bit about one of the steps–interviewing members of your community. When your library has a problem–crowded storytimes, lackluster program attendance, drug use in the bathrooms–it’s not your library that has a problem, it is your community, and the only way to begin solving this problem is to talk to your community. Interview members of the affected groups, and from that information work in small teams to create solutions.

Some communities love their libraries, and others seem able to take the library or leave it– and sometimes this has nothing to do with the actual quality of the library. If you’re a beloved member of your community, rejoice–and keep working hard to earn that love on a daily basis. As in any loving relationship, don’t take it for granted. And if you’re still trying to earn the love of your community? Don’t fret. Go back to love # 1, lather, rinse and repeat, and you’ll get there. I promise.

 

Be The Change

What we need is toolkit for dealing with these roadblocks. Some ideas to get us safely started. I want to make change but am so overwhelmed by all that needs to be done in my system, I’ve no clue where or how to start. Maybe for your next post?
Thanks for helping keep me inspired and energized about my career!

Even though I’m thirty-two years old, I’m way behind in terms of emotional development. My childhood and young adulthood were beyond dysfunctional, putting me at a severe disadvantage when it comes to interpersonal relationships. It’s only recently that I’ve begun to feel that I’m somewhat equipped to handle the world in an emotionally appropriate way. This isn’t to say that I have all the answers, but I have learned many lessons, the most important being: you can’t control anyone but yourself. This is true for any relationship you’ll ever have, personal, professional, and everything in between.

So when it comes to putting together a toolkit for being awesome, that’s where you need to start–with yourself.

Take care of yourself.
Make sure you get enough sleep, exercise, water, and things to eat that are whole and fresh. Get massages when and if you can afford them, or take a yoga class. If you work at a desk, get up every twenty or thirty minutes and walk around a bit.

Speak up for yourself
If someone’s making you feel uncomfortable, threatened, afraid, or just plain icky, speak out. Be polite, be courteous, but be firm. If you need something to accomplish your job–and make sure it is a genuine need, not just a want–ask for it. Any time you speak up, make sure it is from a place of calm. Don’t be afraid to be passionate, but you don’t want to come across as an emotionally unstable harpy, either. Make sure to document any problematic interactions you have. If things have to progress to official channels, you’re going to want things written down and dated.

Educate yourself
If there’s no professional development money, do the next best thing–converse on twitter, read blogs, or ask your boss if you can go visit other nearby libraries to network and gather ideas.

Make an example of yourself
Be awesome in public. Go above and beyond, even if your coworkers snipe at you and no one in administration seems to care. You’re going to know you’re doing a good job, and when it comes time to make a move somewhere better, you’ll be able to speak passionately and truthfully about how you’ve helped your patrons. If you have tons of ideas you’re unable to implement, blog about them–perhaps someone else will be able to make it happen. While that is really not as satisfying as doing it yourself, at least someone will benefit from your wonderful idea.

Easier said than done, sometimes, but these are some guidelines I try to follow in my own life. What about you? How do you handle soul-sucking workplaces, tiresome red tape, and general unawesomeness?

You must be the change you want to see in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi
Indian political and spiritual leader (1869 – 1948)

Sleepy Storytime

(I wrote this last winter but never finished it, so here it is now, as we are hurtling into fall and winter with its sleep-inducing weather.)

The frigid temperatures inspired me to put together a sleep-themed storytime, since this time of year all I want to do is stay beneath the covers and sleep until spring. (Not to toot my own horn, but I think I did my job too well: one of the teachers with my favorite school group actually fell asleep during this storytime).

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime!

Oh, Bob Shea. Oh, Dinosaur. This book is practically perfect in every way. There’s shouting, making fun of grownups, spaghetti, and the opportunity to yell “DINGDINGDING” at the end of every round. (Now that I think about it, I might try busting out my finger chimes next time I read this out loud. Man I love my finger chimes.) This is a super strong opener, so make sure you’re up to the task of selling the rest of the storytime with equal verve.

“Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”

I sang this with the monkey mitt. You have a monkey mitt, right? What genius created a furred glove and those adorably ugly puff ball pipe cleaner goggly eyed creations to go with them? Man. Why can’t I come up with something like that? Then I could have an informercial. Maybe even a spot on QVC. Anyway. I love that song, and the kids do too, but I’ve always felt the ending was lacking. I always feel like I should add some sort of pithy capper—“And then the monkeys spent the rest of the night in the ER”! or something, but nothing ever seems to fit. This time around I decided we’d kiss the monkeys owies and then sing them a lull-a-bye. I chose “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Then we tucked the monkeys into bed after they fell asleep. I felt much more satisfied with that ending. Try it; you might like it. Or try sending them to the ER. I’ve also worked in some banter about concussions; parents and teachers really enjoy that, and the kids enjoy that the adults are laughing.

If you have toddlers or want to add a music component, play this version of song while the kids jump, dance, or even shake some shakers:

Ten in the Den.

John Butler’s books are so adorable (cuter than a pillow stuffed with bunnies) I just want to barf glitter every time I read one. Ten in the Den isn’t my all time favorite (that’s reserved for Whose Baby am I?), but it is one of my sure-fire storytime winners. I sing the book, which you really should do, too (no shame if you’re pitchy) along with some hand actions for the kids—rolling their hands for “roll over, roll over” and either clapping or patting their legs when the animal stops rolling.

The Squeaky Door.

I’d normally put a book this long at the beginning of a storytime, but it doesn’t feel right at the beginning. You don’t want to follow this book with anything else besides a “see ya later.” At the end, when Grandma fixes the door, I had the kids help me fix the door by making the squeak get softer and softer until it disappeared. At the very end of the book, I was always afraid that the kids would squeak instead of shhhh, but no one ever did.

Some other sure-fire hits that would fit this theme: Where is the Green Sheep?, Monkey and Me, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late.

scoundrels, swag, and sweeping exits.

This post contains a bit o’ profanity, so consider yourself warned.

I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t know that much about Chicago, even though I’ve lived here since 2004 and I’ve lived in Illinois all my life. I was fully planning on doing some INTENSE RESEARCH regarding Barry’s questions, but time got away from me and I did the best I could with information from my own widdle brain.

For his last question, however, I figured I call upon someone who knows a lot more about Chicago than I do, and in a nice  bit of congruity, this person is also a YA author who will also be at the event of Saturday. Promotions all around! Huzzah!

So I tossed Barry’s final question (“Is it true that Chicago was settled by New Yorkers who liked congestion and overcrowding, but thought it wasn’t cold enough?”) to author Adam Selzer, whose history credentials include running Weird Chicago tours and publishing a book called The Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History (dude also has more websites than anyone else I know).

So, without further ado, here is Adam’s smart-aleck-y yet entirely factual answer for Barry:

The “New Yorkers who thought it wasn’t cold enough” joke is an old one. Our early settlers were a whole string of murderers, brawlers, liars, and assorted ne’er-do-wells. Among them:

Jean Du Sable – first non-Indian to get settle here. He came up from Haiti, and a theory right now is that he was a pirate on the run from the law.

Jean LaLime, who moved in DuSable’s house when Du Sable left (allegedly after getting pissed off that the Potowatomie wouldn’t make him chief).

John Kinzie, who killed Jean LaLime, moved into his house, and buried the body in the front yard (right around the Tribune tower – they accidentally dug him up several decades later and gave the bones to the historical society, who must have been thrilled). He claimed to be the Founder of Chicago and was thought of as such for years, though he was full of shit.

David Kennison – died in the 1850s claiming to be 115 years old and the last survivor of the Boston Tea Party, and was one of Chicago’s first local heroes (despite being, well, completely full of shit).

So, you could say we were founded by a bunch of loudmouths, liars and no-goodniks who somehow came together to found one of the greatest cities in history. And they’re still at it – Kinzie and Kennison were buried in what is now Lincoln Park, their bodies were left there when the cemetery was moved, and are probably still showing up on voting rolls in local elections.

My last question for Barry was if he was planning future awesome swag give-aways for his books, since I loved the Kyra minimates that he used as a promotional material for the release of Goth Girl Rising:

I’m glad you liked the Kyra minimates. That toy was a blast to put together. With any luck, there will be some cool promotional stuff for the graphic novel, but that’s not coming out until fall 2011, so it’s way too early to talk about at this point.

I’m imagining laser guns and a pony with face markings like a villain’s mask. I hope I’m right!

Even though the questions have all been answered, we’re not done yet! I’ll be stalking authors attending the event on Saturday, so that will be the button on this lil series of chats with Barry. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed putting them together.