A while back, I started exclaiming LIBRARY WIN! whenever we achieved something amazing at work. It began with celebrating challenging readers' advisory interactions - like that time a 10 year-old kid wanted to read "that book about a chicken" she "couldn't remember the title of but the cover was red" (Note: It was The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone). When we found the book on the shelf, I said to her that whenever we find what we are looking for, we have to pump our arms in the air and chant, "Library Win! Library Win! Library Win!". Ha!
Now, the #librarywin has evolved beyond readers' advisory to include remarkable feats of library facilitation. For those that work in the public library world, I don't think it is a secret that traditional reference work has transformed to be extraordinarily multifaceted. You won't find a librarian behind an information desk anymore - they are in the stacks, on the floor, meeting library patrons at their point of need. Not only can a library staff help you find a book, but they can walk through academic databases, find the answer to 12 down in the New York Times crossword puzzle, lead a conversation club with English Language learners, help you figure out your eReader, and troubleshoot Xerox machines (plus like a million other things because librarians and library staff are freaking wizards).
In the realm of children's services, this work has become even more important and varied. In addition to providing excellent book recommendations and information literacy instruction, library staff are literally on the floor playing with children. There have been more than a few times where I have found myself roped into a game of hide and seek in the stacks, or judging paper airplane competitions, or leaping around the library in a tutu with aspiring young dancers -- all while assisting early childhood professionals search for materials "about diversity" that are suitable for toddlers. (Did I mention library staff are freaking wizards?)
There is a bit of a running gag in the library community that the only consistency in library work is how quickly things change. Librarians have to be flexible, adaptable, and responsive, but that isn't easy when maintaining the status quo of traditional librarianship feels so comfortable and safe. Positive and meaningful experiences are not created from the status quo, rather it requires a vulnerability that can be difficult to muster in a profession that has traditionally attracted the more controlling parts of our personalities. And as public libraries all over Canada shift toward community-led service models, and adopt facilitation techniques from museums and inquiry-based instruction from schools, our jobs are beginning to look quite different from what the stereotype suggests. Public librarianship is not book-centered, it is people-centered, and that requires a completely different set of competencies that totally butt against the stereotype of the librarian that so many of us still operate within.
Now I can go on another rant about the myth of librarianship but I think I'm going to save that for another post. My point today is that we should all recognize how challenging our jobs are and celebrate those moments when we go beyond the status quo and experience something great!
So, starting this week I am endeavouring to regularly share my own #librarywin here on the blog and I encourage those in Library Land to do the same. Let's celebrate the amazing work we do, share our experiences, learn from each other, and ultimately lift each other up! Leave your #librarywin in the comments below, share it on social media with the tag #librarywin, and let's get this conversation started!
What kind of library wizardry did you facilitate today?