Blogger Eva Mitnick

Those Inspiring New Children’s Librarians

Back in September and October, we hired 10 brand-new branch Children’s Librarians, and since then we’ve been training them — and training them — and training them!

I spent most of my career as a Children’s Librarian in various community branches, and when one is immersed in one’s job, it’s easy to lose sight of just how huge that job is.  Now that I work in our Children’s Services coordinating office, one of my duties is to train our new librarians, and it has really hit home once again what an amazing and awe-inspiring group of professionals all you Children’s Librarians are.

Here are a few of the mandatory training workshops we offer to each new Children’s Librarian:

Orientation to Children’s Librarianship:  A concentrated, once-over-lightly look at what it means to be a Children’s Librarian in our library system — all in 2.5 hours!  Brains start to smoke gently, let me tell you.

Orientation to Collection Development:  It takes an entire lifetime to hone this skill — in this half-day workshop, we try to start the process rolling in the right direction by discussing how, when, and why we purchase materials.

Collection Maintenance, Display, and Weeding:  This could be called Collection Development, Part 2.  In this one-on-one workshop, I meet with the new Children’s Librarian in his or her branch and we go through the whole collection section by section, discussing face-out displays, figuring out where the graphic novels should go, and of course weeding, weeding, weeding.  Fun!

Service to Schools:  How to work with teachers, how to make presentations to classes and faculty, and why you should never wear a short skirt to a Kindergarten class.

Grandparents and Books:  An introduction to working with our beloved GAB Reading Volunteers.

Summer Reading Club:  ‘Nuff said.

Programming:  In this one-day workshop, we make a crazed attempt to cover every aspect of programming, from lapsit storytimes to puppet shows to storytelling to crafts, etc etc etc.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!

Bear in mind that these new Children’s Librarians are also receiving training on all sorts of other matters pertaining to their jobs, from reference interviews to employee benefits to where to find the copier key.

But are their heads spinning?  Are their eyes glazed?  Are they wondering what possessed them to take on such a demanding and complicated job?

No!  After our last workshop, that whirlwind introduction to Programming, their eyes were shining and they couldn’t wait to get back to the branches and try out all the new things they’d learned.  They were excited.  They chattered about their favorite books, songs, and fingerplays as they headed out the door at the end of the day (leaving me and my fellow trainer slumped over like wrung-out washcloths — we don’t have quite as much pep as we used to).

In short, these new Children’s Librarians have the same enthusiasm and élan that seems to characterize most members of our profession.  We work harder than just about anyone else (or so it feels) because we have the luck to love what we do.  We get tired and bitter occasionally — but never for very long.  We rejoice in our careers.

Happy Holidays and a blessed New Year to all you fabulous Children’s Librarians!


  1. Jillean McCommons

    Your comment about short skirts made me think about gender and librarianship and certain assumptions we make about the title “children’s librarian.” I wonder if we could start a conversation about the need for more gender balance in the workplace and also our assumptions about certain kinds of library work.

  2. Amanda

    I want to work for you!! I’m looking for a new children’s librarian position and all that training sounds wonderful! At my last librarian position there was a simple tour of the library and a “hey, here’s your desk.” No training….none! At this was me, fresh out of graduate school, only having clerked before. Ahhh!

  3. Jeanette

    I’m not sure that the comment about short skirts translates to gender balance issues especially when training a group of new librarians. Most male children’s librarians wouldn’t need that reminder and if my only trainees were male that caveat would not be included. I usually do caution new children’s librarians about wearing washable clothing and not wearing something you would regret having ruined because you will be sitting on the floor and crawling around.

  4. Angela

    what a lucky group of new librarians… i’ve had more the experience that amanda has had– here’s your desk, storytime is on tuesdays, good luck, have fun! of course, i’ve usually worked for smaller systems, so the training is usually limited to the basics. how cool it is that you do this!

  5. emitnick Post author

    I’m happy to report that two of that crop of ten new librarians are men! It would be wonderful to see more men in our field – recruitment and lots of persuasive encouragement in our library schools is key, and of course our current male librarians are excellent role models.
    Funny thing – we always feel like we don’t have the time/money to offer enough training! But of course, there’s nothing like learning by doing…

  6. Nevet Tenne


    My name is Nevet Tenne and I’m the ALD University Coordinator.
    I’m so impressed of the training you provide to your new children’s’ Librarian and was wondering if you would be willing to share more information about your training with me.

    Thanks in advance and have a great holiday season,


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