I believe advocacy is hugely important. I also notice that it’s not something we, as library professionals, do often enough. As anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m always talking about the library. We have so much cool stuff available for FREE and I don’t want anyone to miss out. I’ve even recruited others to help me. My roommate, who works in retail, now sells mp3 players by telling people the library has free downloadable audiobooks. My former coworker’s daughter improved her reading skills by participating in the Read to a Dog program and she raved about it on Facebook. I even had a man get a library card to impress me before our second date!
I’ve never participated in any formal advocacy efforts, although I have seen opportunities to do so through NLA and online. I plan to continue educating others on the value of library services through word-of-mouth advertising. The more people we tell about the library, the more people we can get excited about it, the better off we’ll be.
I started working in libraries by accident. It was never a career that had crossed my mind. I grew up in a small town that didn’t have a library, so I never spent much time at the library. I wanted to be an elementary teacher. After college, I moved to Aurora, Colorado. I worked as a paraprofessional for Denver Public Schools for a year, then began applying for teaching jobs. I sent out dozens of applications with very little response. Feeling defeated, I started looking for other jobs. I saw an opening at the public library and applied there as a backup. I finally landed an interview for a 3rd grade teaching position. The same day, I was called to interview for the library assistant position. I interviewed at the school one day, the library the next. A day later, I was offered the library job. (I was later informed that they chose someone with experience for the teaching job.)
As I learned the library assistant job, I realized that it had the fun parts of teaching (helping people, research, teaching classes) without the bad parts of teaching (politics, standardized tests, angry parents, disciplining a classroom of 35+ kids). I worked there for almost two years before I moved to a new city and a new job. As an assistant librarian in the young adult department of a suburban library, I discovered my passion for programming, outreach, and marketing, as well as working with teens.
I moved back to my home state of Nebraska after almost three years working in YA. I’m now a part-time library assistant for Lincoln City Libraries. Working at a branch library means doing a little bit of everything. However, working part-time means I miss out on doing special projects and programs.
From 2009 to 2010, I worked on my MLS online through Clarion University. I graduated last December. Now I’m looking for that elusive full-time professional position. I would love to work in youth services and do programming and outreach. But with tight budgets all around, library positions are few and far between. In a year and a half, changes will take place in my personal life that will allow me the flexibility to move. In the meantime, I will continue to work as a library assistant and participate in professional development activities to keep my skills sharp and my options open.
Sometimes middle school or high school classes, homeschool groups, or groups such as Boy Scout troops would ask for a tour of the library, specifically the Teen Zone. In preparation for a school visit from a 7th grade class, I prepared a tour and short tutorial of relevant library resources. After the tutorial, students split into groups to do practice exercises and a scavenger hunt of the Teen Zone.
Click below to view the practice exercises and scavenger hunt.
Practice exercises and scavenger hunt
The following is a booktalk I did in a 9th grade classroom. The teacher asked us to talk about books that would be interesting for students in 9th grade that were reading at about a 5th grade level. My coworker and I chose 15 books to booktalk, many of which were claimed by students by the end of the class period.
By Neil Gaiman
Coraline is bored. Coraline is so bored that she’ll do anything. She and her parents have just moved into an apartment. Below them are two old ladies that are of questionable mental state. Above them is an old man who keeps talking about his circus mice. Coraline likes to go exploring, especially outside. But one day it is raining. She is so bored, that she counts all of the doors and windows in her apartment. There are 21 windows and 14 doors. Out of these 14 doors, 13 open and close like normal doors. But the fourteenth door – the big, carved, brown wooden door – is locked. She asks her mother where this door goes. Her mother tells here that it goes nowhere, and unlocks it so Coraline can see that behind the door is a brick wall. That night, though, Coraline is lying awake in her bed when she hears a “creak”. Then she sees a shadow in the hall, a black shape that looks like a person. When she turns on the light, there’s nothing there. The next day, Coraline is still bored. When her mother leaves her at home alone, Coraline decides to take another look at that mysterious door. She climbs up on a chair and takes down the key ring. There is a cold iron key that must go to that door. She listens for her mother. She’s alone, so she puts the key into the keyhole and it turns. She stops again. Still alone. She slowly turns the doorknob and opens the door. Instead of bricks, there is a dark hallway that smells like something very old. She carefully walks down the hallway, until she sees something very familiar. The carpet is the same carpet in her hallway. The wallpaper is the same is her wallpaper. The picture hanging in the hall is the same picture that hangs in her hall. She looks around, confused. She couldn’t have gotten turned around in a hallway. Then she hears someone call her name. It’s her mother – only it’s not. The person standing there looks like her mother, only her skin is white as paper, she is very tall and very thin, and her fingernails are dark red, long, curved, and very sharp. And one more thing – instead of eyes, she has big, gleaming black buttons. “Coraline, we’ve been waiting for you for a long time.”