I’m seeing a worrisome trend in many youth services circles and departments. That trend is youth services practitioners routinely undervaluing and devaluing the work that they are doing….
I love this post from Amy Koester at Storytime Guerrilla. The work of youth librarians is important, and sharing what you do can only help others learn. I want to encourage every YS librarian to share what they do. I’ve learned way more from hearing what others are actually doing than any class project.
But I do think there are a lot of factors besides not thinking they have anything special to contribute or shyness that can prevent people from sharing their programs and ideas with the community, and the biggest can be time.
Everything from blogging to attending conferences and developing a presentation trades off with the time it takes to actually do your job. Or other real-life responsibilities.
Amy’s post & what Molly adds are really important, and those calls for proposals mean you, too.
Amy touches a bit on gender in the post, but I’ll say it straight: females in female-heavy professions like youth librarianship tend to not see their accomplishments or knowledge or expertise as such (“just doing my job” — there is no “just”) and they are less willing to speak up and own their awesome.
There are a lot of factors, but your own belief in yourself/what you’d potentially bring to the table as “not being good enough” should NOT be one.
Many truisms and commentary on this post. Youth services staff rarely gets “pats on the back” for the extraordinary things we do everyday. We love our work; we think what we do is important. I am tired of hearing and seeing in my library school that all things digital and metadata are the cool things to know. There is a time and place for these disciplines, I recognize that. It comes off like youth services is a “soft” library discipline when everything else has a more legitimate status. I have felt myself reconsidering my area of study with library grad school multiple times over the last few years because of the digital push. Truth is, I love working in youth services, I think I am good at it; I know I can grow with it. I am a proud future youth services librarian!
Yes, there is a gender component to this. Often, “women’s work” is less valued. That is a problem.
People should feel like their expertise and ideas are valuable and I encourage them to share it with colleagues. I also don’t think people need to feel pressure to do so, as it does trade off with work time and other commitments.
And I definitely think the culture of my library school classes, at least so far, place far more emphasis and value on academic over public libraries and services for adult rather than children. I will have an opportunity for some classes that focus on youth services, but am the only person in my cohort interested in them. Which is why it’s so awesome to have a network of youth services librarians online to go to for support, ideas, and camaraderie!