Children's Librarians are Experts

Children’s Librarians are Experts at Staying Calm and Being Flexible

As public librarians, we deal with unexpected hazards on the regular. In my experience, children’s librarians are the experts in our buildings at staying calm and remaining flexible, no matter the situation.

We deal with minor disruptions in programs and Storytimes every day, enabling and training us from early in our careers to be expertly flexible humans. Could you imagine rigidly stopping Storytime and demanding that a crying child and their caregiver leave so you could continue reading your book in peace? What is peace? We are skilled at dealing with children here, and so we switch gears. We say, “The End” three pages early (even if it hurts us, because the book will seriously change their lives), and start passing out shaker eggs or scarves and put on a song. I may be lucky, but usually the crying dissipates. Even if it does not, our Storytime crowd is not straining to hear, I am not trying to shout a story, and the others are having fun with their new activity. Everybody wins! Flexibility!

A cup on top of a stack of picture books
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I have seen us remain calm in emergencies and crises. For example, the other day, I saw an under two year old wobble out of our department (as only new walkers do), and paused a moment while I searched for a caregiver following her. There was not one, so I calmly followed her, and right as she was about to wobble out the front door, totally out of view of our department, I gently took her hand and led her smiling face back into the department. I calmly informed the caregivers that she was almost out the front door, and returned her to them. Did I start screaming, “Dear God that toddler is escaping! Someone get her!” Did I scare the toddler by grabbing her or picking her up harshly? Absolutely not! I remained cool, calm, collected, and enjoyed the smiles she and I shared as we walked together back to her grownups.

Photo of young boy reading a book
Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

There was another time, when a parent was having a seizure in our bathroom. It was a scary situation, as he had been changing his baby’s diaper with the help of a friend. He dropped, started seizing, the baby started screaming, and the friend started shouting she needed help because he was having a seizure. I walked over and calmly said I would call 911 right away. I had noticed a manager’s door open earlier, so I asked a colleague to-please-go get the manager on duty, and continued my 911 call. All was well. I have since learned how to help someone who was seizing, and if I could do it again, I would have prevented his head hitting the tile, and asked someone else to call 911 for me.

I love the Librarians I know who serve adults, but I am not convinced their abilities to remain calm or be flexible are their strong suits. A calm demeanor and flexible nature are requirements for our daily jobs, and we rock at being experts of these characteristics! Keep on rocking, folks.

Woman blowing sparkles from her hands
Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash

Do you have an example of how you remained calm in a dodgy situation, or how you demonstrated flexibility in your job? Share below! I would love to hear.


Headshot of guest blogger
Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Today’s guest blogger is Gretchen Schulz. Gretchen is the Tween Librarian at Schaumburg Township District Library in the suburbs of Chicago, IL. She focuses on programming for 9-12 year olds, and does Baby Storytime. Both of which she loves! In her spare time, she loves reading, crafting, kickboxing, and baking.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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