Professional Development

Two Little Magic Words

This time of year, I enjoy looking back at what I am thankful for. I remember my first job as a Children’s Librarian in a little hamlet in Los Angeles County almost 22 years ago. One day there was a meeting of the Friends, and I was there to ask them to support a children’s program. They voted yes, and I was happy, but kind of in a fog, and not too sure about how these things worked.  A Library Assistant who attended the meeting nudged me and said quietly through a bright smile, “Say thank you.” So I did. I’ll admit that I was a little annoyed that she had to prompt me, but I shouldn’t have been. That was my introduction to the Friends of the Library and the beginning of a career of learning to say thank you.

I don’t know about you, but I wanted to become a librarian mainly because of my interest in books and the world of libraries. I’m not sure I really thought about the reality of working with children on a daily basis.  As an introvert, I enjoyed, and still enjoy, being around people-whether customers, members of the community or coworkers, but the interactions either 1) drained my energy or 2) felt inauthentic.  I was not aware of the importance of getting  outside of my head,  making eye contact and responding to those around me. I just wanted to help kids find information and good books! My mother was a preschool teacher and her infectious love of kids made me feel like this was familiar territory.

Fortunately, there were those who came alongside me, saw my desire to be a better librarian, and nurtured my growth. I’m so grateful.  I already mentioned the library assistant who gave me a kick in the rear at that meeting so long ago. Library Assistants are often more down to earth and more in touch with our customers and the heartbeat of our communities.

I’d also like to say thank you to the colleague who gave me my first true feedback about my story times when I worked here .  Basically, she told me that I had no skills. Yep, it was harsh, but I accepted the challenge to step up my game and develop story time programs that encouraged engagement. That meant getting bigger and stretching beyond my fear of being too silly and my tendency to be too serious.

Almost 10 years ago, I was hired at my current job by a director who took a chance on me and allowed me the freedom to develop my own programs with very little micromanaging. Her strength was teaching by example.  She had a sunny disposition at work, chose to focus on the good in others, and a way about her that made you lighten up a bit and smile. Even when the library was experience severe cutbacks, she showed me the importance of vulnerability and communicating with staff.  Her positive outlook may not have inspired everyone, but it wasn’t lost on me, and I have never forgotten the lesson.  Thank you.

I’d love to hear about someone in Libraryland that encouraged you, cheered you, and inspired you to be the librarian that you are today. Email me!

One comment

  1. Allyssa Sepulveda

    I too was inspired by a Librarian! I was in college, earning my undergrad degree in Liberal Studies, while working at my local library as a Page (a great job for a college student! Putting books away was actually quite relaxing). At this time, my Liberal Studies classes kept informing me of how much testing was being done in schools….it was the peak of “No Child Left Behind” and I really didn’t want my career to be testing students all the time. So, I spoke to a children’s librarian. I think I was kind of lamenting about my next steps and she said “Why don’t you be a librarian? It doesn’t matter what your BA is in, but you need to get a Masters.” This is all it took for that spark to ignite! I researched, found possible schools, and applied. The rest is kind of history. If it wasn’t for her, I honestly don’t know where I would be right now. But I do know, that I love sharing books, assisting with computers, and teaching research skills. And thanks to my colleague/friend, I can honestly say that I love my job.

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