Sunday, March 30, 2014

My #whylib

I'm pretty hooked on Twitter, y'all.  I mean, seriously---some of the BEST PD I get, I get from my tweeps. I love the sharing, the collaborating, and really, just the awesome people I "meet" there, in general.

This morning before the kids woke up I was perusing my Twitter feed and came across Andy Plemmon's #whylib tweet.  I followed the link and read his story and was immediately inspired.  Back to Twitter, with my mug of coffee in hand, I began to see more and more of this #whylib hashtag.  Of course, anything that comes from the gurus involved in thinking up this cool idea is fabulous, so I just had to join in!
 (seriously--I mean @MrSchuReads, @plemmonsa, @dmcordell, @libraryreeder, @actinginthelib, and @LibraryFanatic---who WOULDN'T want to be associated with anything they are creating, right?)

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's story--we librarians sure are a diverse and amazing group, aren't we?

Time to add mine to the mix!

I come from a family of readers and story-tellers; from a family of preachers and teachers and folks who loved the rhythm of both language and music.  I cannot remember there ever being a time when my home was not filled with the magic of words and story---from listening to Wicked Wilson Picket on my parent's vinyl records, to my uncle reciting Poe at family get-togethers; from the sermons my Papaw wrote and preached to my mother reading aloud to me from the beginning of my life (Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb-dum-ditty-dum-ditty-dum, dum, dum!); from the gentle cadence of my grandfather telling me about that 'ole lion that was in his den just waiting for Daniel to be thrown in to the sound of my grandmother's laughter as she told me funny stories from her childhood, the power and magic of words has always been a constant in my life.

As my brothers and I got older we looked forward to our every-Saturday trips to the public library in town. How I loved reading fairy tales from all around the world and when I was a bit older I loved reading biographies from the glamour days of Hollywood.  I was the kid that fell asleep reading nearly every night.

With that being said it may seem rather strange that it never occured to me that I should consider becoming  a librarian.

I was an elementary ed major in college (Interdisciplinary Studies, they called it then).  I graduated early and became a kindergarten teacher, eventually teaching every grade at some point or another in elementary schools.  I adored my work until testing started to rise in importance.  The day my sweet 3rd grader, Nathaniel, came to me in tears over his test anxiety is a day I will carry with me forever.  Here was this beautiful little soul--this smart, quiet, hard-working kiddo with tears in his eyes telling me he wasn't good enough because of some stupid numbers on a stupid test that reflected nothing of who HE WAS, but rather how well he tested that day---and something within me realized that I could not be a part of that . (Let me be sure to say here that I realize there are many great teachers out there fighting the good fight every day despite these exact circumstances--I am in no way saying I have anything over you, and I am SO grateful that you are out there---what I AM saying is---that this is when I realized that despite my love for kids, for teaching, and for making the world a better place--that the regular classroom was not meant to be my niche any longer.

The universe was telling me it was time to make a change.

A little voice in my head kept whispering...what about the library? but I kept squashing it down.  After all, I was loud, for Pete's sake. Even my laughter is loud--and I do so love to laugh. I was a theatre person.   Yes, I loved books, I loved reading and recommending books to everyone I knew---but a librarian? Naaaaa.

I've read with a bit of jealous longing about those that became librarians because they had such amazing experiences with their librarians growing up.  I wish that was my history, too. But sometimes the truth isn't that pretty---and folks, I had some scary school librarians during my growing up years.

My elementary school librarian struck fear in the hearts of all who knew her.  My biggest memory of going to the library in 3rd grade was being yelled out for getting the wrong copy of the book she was making me read.  How was I supposed to know there were 2 different books titled Big Red? Clearly, I came back with the wrong one.  Properly shamed in front of my entire class, I finally found the right copy and checked it out, fighting back my desire for both tears and foot-stomping.  I never even bothered opening that book. (I remember what I was wearing that day, y'all, if that tells you anything about the depth of this experience.  A red and blue dress with white polka-dots, in case you were wondering.)

My middle school librarian was frightening enough to me that I read all of Dicken's by the time I was in 7th grade (these were shelved fairly close to the library doors and to the circ desk, which made for the quickest trip to the library possible--the good news?  I loved Dickens. )

I never felt welcomed.  I never felt wanted.  I never felt important.

I'm not sure exactly what made me begin to listen to that little voice---maybe it was the sheer persistence of that little seed of an idea.  What about the library?  I do know that when it finally dawned on me that I could take everything my students and I loved about my classroom and apply it to the library as the librarian that I became truly excited about signing up for library school.  My ultimate library goal?  EVERYONE that walks through the library doors will feel welcomed and wanted and important.  Readers will feel that way.  Non-readers will feel that way.  Students, parents, faculty and staff, community members and guests will ALL feel that my library is their library, because the truth IS our library.  It is both a haven and a hive of learning.  Whether my kids come in because they need a book they already have in mind, or want a recommendation for a great read that suits them, or they need to work on a project or print something for a class, or they want to play a quick game of checkers after school, or they need a bit of a respite from the loud cafeteria, or they need a hug in the midst of a no-good-very-bad-day, I want the library to be that place for them.

This year is my 14th year as a school librarian.  I can truly tell you I am joyful about my work because it is my passion and my calling.  I continue to seek to learn and grow, to be mentored and to mentor.  I received my Master of Instructional Technology in 2009 because I have a strong desire to stay on top of all that libraries and librarians can be and do for our patrons.  I follow amazing folks on Twitter and other social media for the same reason.

Why did I become a school librarian?  Because it encompasses EVERYTHING magical and wonderful about the power of words and story that I loved growing up and combines that with my love for working with and helping others grow in every form of literacy.

Because, in short, it is the best.gig.ever.

What's your story?  #whylib?


  1. Isn't it funny that even though we LOVED books, we never thought about being librarians? I feel like it was such a "duh" moment for me when it finally clicked and I found my niche as a TL. Thank you so much for joining our #whylib project!

  2. I love this part, "I come from a family of readers and story-tellers; from a family of preachers and teachers and folks who loved the rhythm of both language and music." Thank you for joining our project.

  3. thank you both for the kind words and the inspiration!