Why I am what I am. Why I do what I do.

The folks over at the blog Teen Librarian’s Toolbox posted questions last week to their YA Librarian followers, asking us questions about why we like our jobs, how our jobs are challenging, and more. I wrote too many characters to add my two-cents in the comments section, so I’ve decided to post my answers here. Please ask for clarification if you don’t understand, or want further explanation.

1.  How did you become a teen librarian?
I was volun-told into the position of Teen Liaison when I was only a Circulation Associate at a library in Maryland. Despite not even having completed (or even begun!) my MLS degree, my branch manager thought that my age, enthusiasm, and interest in YA literature were enough to qualify me as the best woman for the job. I hosted the first TAB meeting, and my professional life as I knew it was sealed from that first meeting. I was hooked on serving teens. Their personalities, enthusiasm (or lack thereof, which I considered a personal mission to pull out), were fun to be around.

2. What is your favorite teen read (book or author)?
I especially love Markus Zusak and John Green because of their excellent writing, character development, and one-liners (I write more in the margins of their novels than any textbook I’ve owned) but recently I have fallen in love with David Levithan and Maggie Steifvater, for much the same reasons.

3.  What is one thing you wish your co-workers, administrator or community knew?
Teens are dynamic and fun to be around and work with, but my job is not what it seems. I do more than talk to them, hang out with them, and advise them on what to read/watch/listen to. The planning, publicizing, and general work load is just as significant of any other librarian or professional. I also wish they knew that I am not only here for teens in their current state. I am here to help teens develop into the adults they are to become. I do this through programming, conversations, and ensuring that they read appropriate books for their abilities and interests.

4.  What is the one thing you wish your teens knew?
That sometimes I have emails to answer, papers to write, research to conduct, etc. That being said, I never say “no” to a teen who wants me to look at their newest graphic design, or listen to a song they think I’ve never heard (despite the fact that I’ve been listening to that band since I was 14).

5.  What has been your best program to date?
The Harry Potter movie release party I hosted in 2007. My coworker and her younger siblings made floating candles out of white paper, tape, fishing wire, and paperclips and we strung them from the ceiling. My mom made chocolate frogs and butter beer. My sister brought my infant nephew and dressed him as baby Harry, lightning scar and all. The tweens and teens had such a good time with the trivia, watching the trailers, and watching the 4th movie. It is one of my most favorite program memories.

6.  What do you wish there was more of in teen fiction?
Exciting, realistic fiction novels for boys. Not necessarily adventure, and no more “save the world” stuff. Just, funny, well-written books for boys. (Queue my fiancé saying, “Write it yourself!”)

7.  What teen fiction trend are you so over?
Vampires. If I see another set of fangs on a cover of a book…

8.  What is your least favorite (or most challenging) part of being a teen librarian?
Not having the time, unlimited funds, and attendees for all the awesome programs I want to host. My ideas (admittedly, many come from ideas posted on YALSA listservs…I’d be lost without them) are infinite, but it’s overkill to do too many things. Choosing what those things are, knowing there’s an audience for it and praying they’ll show up, and hosting it, is a challenge. (No matter how extroverted I am, I get nervous for a split-second when a program is about to begin. Will anyone attend? Will they think my program is dumb? Will they return?)

9.  What is your favorite part of being a teen librarian?
The daily interactions with the “regulars” as well as the once-in-a-blue-moon visitors. I truly love reader’s advisory (I read a lot of YA lit, so talking to teens about it is great! And gives my friends and family a break from having to hear me talk about it), asking them about their day. Also, I adore my coworkers. I am privileged to work with people who believe in fulfilling the same missions that I do: serve the public, and serve them well.

10. What do you think is the biggest challenge for the future of teen librarianship?
As technology finds its way into the hands of every teen (I am convinced that my children will have mobile or tablet devices as early as infancy), how do we ensure that the physical space of libraries stays relevant to teens? The library is a wonderful place for teens to develop myriad skills – teaching others, creating new things, learning from materials as well as from each other – so how do we ensure they continue to come in, even when there are no physical materials to check out?

4 Thoughts

  1. Maybe you should write a book along the lines of Big Brother. Tech fiction for for the geek, boy or girl. I am guessing your fiance would be willing to help edit and add to the tech parts…

  2. Of course! And you, Jason, can be my Vampire guru. I’ll go to you for the edits to ensure that I am staying true to the vampire mythology.

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