“If you build it, they will come,” is a phrase from a long-time favorite movie of mine. It has also been my mantra since my librarian retired almost a year and a half ago. Over that time, I have learned so much and processed through so many emotions.
First, I found the perfect person, and she broke my heart. Then, I found no one and decided to just hold off until someone amazing and fabulous came along. During that time, I was on a mission to make the library somewhere in which no one would say no! Complete with new circulation and check in desks, new paint, an investment in supplies and maker space materials, new shelving, a completely new look, an office for my new librarian and lots more, I learned about shelving by genre to replicate the Barnes and Noble look. I learned about weeding and maintaining a collection in the 21st Century. I familiarized myself with Dot Day and World Read Aloud Day and Dr. Seuss’ Birthday. These are not events that were previously on this principal’s radar! Books were purchased; the entire staff and 4th and 5th graders were trained in Overdrive. Specials was moved in and out of rotation. Those days as a child of making cards and checking my books out to all of my dolls and stuffed animals found a bit of reality. In essence, I completely overhauled my understanding of the job in which a librarian is hired to do and the one in which she is expected to do – very different, sadly.
Oh! Did I mention that I completely stalked amazing people on twitter like Shannon Miller, Tina Beruman, and Nikki Robertson? Yep, I did. After fan-girling Shannon Miller at TCEA, I joined the Future Ready Librarians Facebook group. Wow! There’s a wealth of brilliance right there in one place! It gets better though!
I went to TLA in San Antonio. I did! My district library/media specialist supervisor sponsored me for the Administrator’s Conference. It was amazing!
I returned home today – after the worst plane ride EVER. (Sorry Southwest, but someone needs to fix the air on that plane. I saw Jesus at 15,000 feet! It was AWFUL!) I am still in a fog, a combination of airsickness, over heating and straight up exhaustion.
Here are a few of my Takeaways, Ahas, I knew its and Wow’s from TLA all rolled into one:
· Librarians are freaking amazing. Great librarians are world changers.
· Good writers have to be good readers.
· Meeting an author is exhilarating – even if you have no earthly idea who they are.
· Meeting an author in which you have read most of his/her books is nothing short of sharing ice cream with Justin Timberlake.
· The library really is the heart of a school.
· A good librarian is literally a magician/actress/
counselor/juggler/reader/writer/friend to all.
· Walking around picking up free books is better than being a kid in a candy store with your grandpa.
· The library is a storehouse of information – like how to obtain your citizenship!
· Scott Westerfield literally scares me. I seriously almost ran every time I saw him - and he seemed to be following me. Just sayin.
· These people get up early and stay out late!
· Whoever thought to add fruit and sandwiches to the showroom floor on the opening night of the vendor event was brilliant. Seriously, totally hit the spot.
· Meeting Margaret Haddix provided the same enthusiasm as a Jimmy Buffet concert.
· No system is perfect for everyone; you have to build a library that meets the needs of YOUR community.
· Developing a brand is imperative.
Social media is the best way to tell your story. If you don’t tell it, someone else will, and it may not be the story you want to tell.
· Administrators stereotypically are the ones who hold the librarians back in a school setting. (I had a salesperson actually use the word “dumb” when sharing how to jump through the hoops my principal might require. LOL, she had no idea.)
· There’s a valid reason librarians wear odd shoes. They are on their feet all the time!
Exhaustion has set in. Delirium has joined exhaustion. Bottom line, I am tired of playing librarian. When I returned home today, I hired a new librarian, and no, although I threatened, I did not wear a sandwich board and interview anyone at TLA; I may or may not have given out my business cards. I built it and here she is! There were two amazing finalists, and we could not have gone wrong with either.
Next year, she will be at TLA. And, I will be right there with her, dragging a bag of books around meeting authors and looking for ways to make the world a better place. Oh yeah, I need to add that to my list:
· Librarians are always looking for ways to make the world better.
I love librarians - but maybe not the shoes.