As of tomorrow, I will officially have been at my library for a full year. This is my first job out of graduate school and I have learned a lot in a year. I have grown both professionally and personally in my short time here. I could make a list for days about all the things I've dealt with this past year, but decided that a top 5 list would be more fun! Here are 5 things that I've learned in my first year as a professional librarian.
5. Kids say the strangest things. I've quickly realized that children between the ages of 3-7 have no filter. Whether you're in storytime or working the desk, you will soon find out more than you ever wanted to know about a child, his family, his eating habits, what animals he likes, etc. I've had everything from talking about bowel movements to little ones telling me their parents are divorcing. Things can get pretty uncomfortable with some of the things you'll hear, but its important to acknowledge what the child is saying. The reason he's telling you about these things is because he trusts you. Acknowledge what the child is saying, understand that the parent feels just as uncomfortable as you, and move on with a new topic.
4. Budgeting is hard. I knew going into this field that there was little money to be spread around. I didn't realize how small or nonexistent the children's budget would be though. The children's services is the face of our library. Our collection has the highest circulation rate, and our programs bring in the highest attendance. We are constantly striving to add new and innovative programming at our library, and make sure we have copies of the newest books. However, our budget has been cut every year, and this gets harder and harder. You must advocate for yourself! Our summer reading budget was completely cut this year. Talk about it! The only way things will change is if you let people know why you need funds. After meeting with the city manager, money was found to fund our summer reading this year.
3. You have to think outside the box. It's very easy to come into a new library and stick with the status quo with programming. It makes sense to do this in the beginning so you can get to know your patrons and what types of programs work best for them. However, you have to be willing to try new things. There's a huge chance that a brand new program will fail, but it could also be the best program your library has ever had. You will never know until you try. If you're not trying new things, your patrons can become bored. More importantly, you will get bored! There are so many programming resources available through blogs, Pinterest, and other librarians. Go outside your comfort zone and try something different!
2. No two storytimes are alike. Storytime is one of the things I love most about my job. Its a chance to really get to know your patrons and form a bond with them. Its also a lot of fun! However, it can be very draining to do 7+ storytimes each week. The most important thing I've learned is to make sure I've planned breaks for myself throughout the year. This gives me a chance to regroup, relax, and come up with some new ideas. Also, storytime will rarely go as planned. That book that is your favorite and you know will be a hit... it's going to bomb. That book that you think is hilarious... no one will get the joke, not even the parents.You must be flexible! Always have a back up plan, just in case.
1. You have to love your job. This job can be as fun or as difficult as you make it. It's amazing what a positive attitude will do for you work environment. There are a lot of challenges that come with this field; budget concerns, staffing issues, city politics, etc. You have to be able to rise above it and make sure you are putting your best self out there for programming and just daily tasks. A happy librarian is much more approachable then someone one looks miserable. Remember to smile! You get to be around children every day, and bring them joy through books. I honestly think that people in this position have the power to influence and change lives. You just have to make it happen!