I have been shocked recently with the trend of school librarians seeking opinions about books and regularly asking for others opinions on books they are thinking of buying for their libraries on listserv and on social media. I have always thought that one of the joys of running a library, especially one where you are so connected with your users, such as in a school library, that buying books which specifically appeal to your students is easy. Why ask someone who doesn’t know your users? Why ask someone who doesn’t work in a school at the same level as you? Why are you so scared of buying something which you could easily send back if it doesn’t fit? Yes budgets are tight. Yes, sometimes you make a mistake? I’ve just finished a book which I should not have bought, thank goodness I read it before it hit the hands of a Yr 9 boy – far too much graphic sex. But you have to have some confidence in yourself. Decide that you know your existing stock, that you know what you need in the library, that you have great selection tools and do some research yourself. That is what librarians do. Don’t think that by posting on the listserv that you will get opinions from people which will match yours, you might get me, and I might tell you to go to a bookshop and have a look for yourself. I might tell you to look at the blogs or at Goodreads to see what other people are saying about the books you are considering. I might tell you that it is your job to know what will work for your students and staff.
Why are you so unwilling to take a punt on books which have been nominated for awards? Which have been compared to a heap of others which fit the same category of reader – junior fiction (if you are an intermediate school you are going to want those right) Senior Fiction is much more tricky I admit. There are always some I don’t buy because they don’t fit (too girly or ugly cover so nobody will borrow it, we already have 16 of this kind of book and don’t need any more there are plenty of reasons a book won’t work for me, but I can tell by looking. So can you!) but New Zealand kids need to read NZ books, they need to read the best of the bunch. And I’m happily going to say that one of the best NZ kids books I read last year wasn’t on the list of NZ Post Books and I was gutted about that, but I can push that book to my kids and not everyone can be a finalist. Kids need to read a variety of books and they don’t only need to read your taste. Maybe you are someone who likes ‘lovely’ books. Old fashioned charmers. Well you can’t just buy ‘old fashioned charmers’ for your school library. Peter Rabbit is all very well and good but your kids don’t live in England in the 1960s they live in NZ in the 2000s. They are not you when you were a kid. Read some new books. Read what is on the lists. Learn to love the modern. Or you should consider looking for another job.
School librarians are hip, they are down with the cool kids, they love new, they love cool and they love kids and they most of all get kids. If you get kids then you know what to buy them. Stop asking the world to do your job. Get on the blogs, follow cool school librarians from all over the world, look up reading lists, follow Zac Harding, Lorraine Orman and Bob Docherty, join Goodreads and look for other school librarians and see what they love. Look at what is hot all around the world, what is winning awards, what are people raving about. It is the joy of finding gems that you didn’t know about before by hunting around that makes me happy.
Mostly though, you should be a librarian. Good at choosing, good at researching and good at reading books for kids!
It is booklist time of year again, one of my favourite times, I keep adding to my most wanted in 2014 lists and finding new ways of spending the budget I want to have, not necessarily the budget I will have.
The ALSC – Association for Library Service to Children have put out a Tween Booklist. You know those kids, the ones who look like teenagers, act like teenagers and are little kids inside even if they don’t realise it. You can download the PDF in either black and white or colour which I think is just excellent and it makes good browsing.
Find it here. While you are on their website check out some of the other fantastic things they have on there. Very inspiring!
Why did this blogpost ring so true to me? Well that is because, like any small organisation, the one I devote large amounts of my free time to is an organisation which thrives on people standing up and offering skills, vision and time, and sometimes those things seem a little thin on the ground. Plenty of folk clamor for new things, new initiatives, new tools from our organisation but very few put their hands up to help make them happen. I really liked what this blog post had to say about getting involved, that talent comes in many forms and that people’s strengths are often where new cool ideas are to be found. Yes, the collective is stronger than the individual.
The collective is stronger than the individual.
We’ve all got something we can contribute to a shared outcome. If a stronger profession is what we want, then why don’t we all bring our strengths to the cause?
So, be bold, put your hand up. Come up with a good idea and offer to drive it. Mentor someone, what do you feel the burn for? What would you love to see happen? Together we can make awesome happen, alone it takes an age, is not as much fun and doesn’t offer you the opportunity to learn new skills and connect with others who share your skills and passion. Say yes! Say why not! Say ‘hey I’ve got a good idea!’
If you ever wanted a clip to show your students what determination to win and achieve looks like, then this might be the one to show them. I am going to put this on my school blog because I know my boys will relate to it, but it would be great to show any kid I think. This guy is just so cool, and I particularly love the reaction of his fellow riders at the end!
It is from @timoslomo on Twitter
Over on Zac Harding’s blog I read the good news and I must (absolutely must) (and I don’t care how squeely sounding my high pitch voice becomes actually) but one of my total favourite, and a book I thrust into the hands of many unsuspecting boys who go on to love it, is going to be a movie. Out here in 2014 How I Live Now is coming and it is going to be a big event for me. I have been a huge fan of Meg Rosoff for a long time loving all her books, well if I was being truthful I would tell you that I didn’t love her most recent one, but I have loved all the rest. Anyway enough of this unattractive ranting. Here is the trailer.
I’ve been quietly seething for the last few days and as my opinion hasn’t diminished I’m hoping a wee rant and public posting will allow me to move on.
Have you seen the new Lego Librarian in Lego’s mini-figures Bio series?
I guess we need to celebrate that Lego has acknowledged our profession and immortalised it in Lego. That is pretty cool. And honestly, I don’t mind the cardigan, I mean, well, aren’t they kinda chic this season?
No, it’s the mug that I take exception to. The mug with its “Shhh!” message! What is with that antiquated librarian image? Surely, the Shushing Lego Librarian isn’t a stereotype that we are happy to identify with?
Thank goodness for Mr Library Dude’s humour. Joe Hardenbrook (aka Mr Library Dude) wrote a thoughtful piece on Image, Public Perception, and Lego Librarians and went on to digitally redesign twenty-eight Lego Librarians – a brilliant assortment of librarian personalities, examples of how the public may perceive us, including satirical captions.
Regardless, the “shushing” mug has got to go. How about a “search engine” or “knowledge creator” coffee mug instead? Would these slogans be as immediately identifiable as a librarian? Sadly, I think not. Enhancing our professional image is certainly worth fighting for.
Any other suggestions for librarian coffee mug slogans?