Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Bored silly

I had an interesting 'discussion' the other day with a colleague about the recent vacancy we had for a part time Children's and Youth Services Librarian. We had only vaguely discussed a relatively new part time position she had acquired and then the comment was made that 'quite frankly, she would be bored silly with children's librarianship'. Interesting comment, considering that this librarian has worked in a public library for several years (albeit casually, and still is) and should have a solid understanding of the significance of lifelong learning and the important role libraries play in this, but especially the role that children's librarianship plays.

Information literacy starts from an early age and through programs and services developed and delivered in public libraries across Australia, children's librarians are playing a critical role delivering this message to parents. In most instances, a children's librarian is the one who is running and driving the following sorts of programs:

  • Storytime
  • Rhyme Time
  • Information literacy sessions to classes, parents AND university students
  • Support of the Premier's Reading Challenge in supported states (see what Yarra Plenty has done as one example - there are many others)
  • Holiday programs (see examples on Darwin City Council Libraries site and Wyndham Library's site)
  • Outreach programs to educational and family focused places such as schools, kindergartens, playgroups, Family Day Care sessions and RTOs
  • Family literacy talks to parents
  • Babies and books talks to new and soon-to-be mothers

Research has shown that literacy levels in children are vastly increased when parents or carers are involved at home. Sure, many of the programs I mention above are for children, but let’s face it, if ADULTS aren’t engaged, they also won’t bring the children to the library. Who, in these instances, is the one dealing with the adults, selling them the library’s services, programs and resources? The children’s librarian.

These programs are not the only duties that form part of the role of a Children’s and Youth Services Librarian – quite often there is selection, weeding, ordering, reader’s advisory, planning, writing proposals, marketing and customer service thrown in for good measure.

Bored silly? I think not. What do others think?


Michelle McLean said...

I've done a few different jobs in public libraries, including the odd storytime and as a result, I have great respect for all roles and the individual challenges each experience.

Boredom in any public library job? Not even in a blue moon.

Andrew said...

Personally, I think I'd be bored silly working as an accountant, or a public planner, or an engineer. However, I recognise that (a) there are people who find pleasure and job satisfaction in these roles, and (b) these roles are important in society.

I don't know the context in which your colleague made the comment, but I guess it really depends on the reason that they went into librarianship. If it was to develop solid reference and research skills in providing a reference service, then I guess that C&YS probably wouldn't stimulate them in that way. Similarly if they were passionate about adult reading programs, or automated library systems management. And I think that's okay - not every job is for everybody.

It is, however, important to recognise and respect the different roles that each team member plays, and support each other in doing so (which, to my understanding, is where your real gripe lies).

There are a number of reasons why I wouldn't become a C&YS librarian any time soon, but boredom is certainly not one of them. I think it's such an important job to get *right*, and I have an immense amount of respect for C&YS librarians who do achieve this.