I received my high school diploma in 1993, my undergrad degree in 1997, and my MLIS in 1999. My formal education stopped just before we launched into the manic phase of the information age, when the internet really took hold of society. In my Master’s program, we learned how to navigate the technology that was in use at the time. However, much of it was more suited to the needs of an academic librarian. In my children’s track classes, we focused on storytelling and literature, good reference interviews, and other the things that make us awesome children’s librarians. I did learn to use the the internet, smart phones and social media in my personal life. But professionally, I used Word, and Microsoft Publisher, and that was pretty much all she wrote.
But then 2020. The Pandemic. The Quarantine. EVERYTHING I did as a librarian needed to go through some form of technology in order to reach the public that I so desperately missed, loved and wanted to serve. I was going to have to use this scary stuff whether I liked it or not.
It was fortunate that I had to do this work in the isolation of quarantine. I would have just asked one of my more tech savvy colleagues to handle it otherwise. But I had no choice. If I wanted to put out good quality material, I was going to have to make it work. And so I started fiddling. I fiddled with my phone. Then I fiddled with my computer. Then I fiddled with old technology that my husband had cast off but not thrown away. I was starting to get comfy! Then I bit the bullet and bought some newer technology, and that really increased my commitment. If you check out of YouTube page, you can watch the evolution of our use of technology!
There were bumps in the road, of course. I had a full-fledged laugh/cry the first time I had to stream on Zoom and Facebook Live simultaneously. But now? Now I know how to edit audio and video and hook up all kinds of lines and boxes and wires (and wirelesses). I can open a software program with a million little fiddly boxes and knobby looking things and I don’t panic! I play!
And the play is SO MUCH FUN! I’m learning how to make the niftiest stuff that I never would have been able to create pre-pandemic! Look at our Winter Extravaganza program! I’m not saying that this is professional level, but our department made fourteen minutes and twenty-two seconds of glorious, original, literacy rich content! I AM SO PROUD OF US! We used green screens! We synced audio and video together that were recorded separately. We used our felts, the bread and butter of any children’s library department, to make stop animation songs! I was able to record my beautiful colleagues singing into real microphones, and create the instrument tracks to back them up using the flute that I hadn’t played since 1987, our little department shaker eggs and my trusty guitar. It was MAGIC. The videos are like my babies. I am absurdly proud of them. I am not blind to their faults, but I love them despite their issues. We started with nothing, and we made something. And that is one of the best feelings there is.
I have the zeal of the newly converted to technology as a means for telling stories, for creating, for personal expression, and for marking a place in time and space in a lasting way. The way I operate as a librarian will never be the same. Also, my commitment to ensuring that every single child has access to these means of expression has intensified. Technology is like a pen. It’s a vehicle for creation. If libraries are going to equip our communities and the children in them for true twenty-first century literacy, then we need to provide access to these precious technological resources. If they feel anything close to the pride that I do in their creations, then it will be worth every penny that we invest.