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    Show Me the Awesome: Staying Awesome on Hiatus



    Artwork by John LeMasney,

    Today I’m participating in Show Me the Awesome: 30 Days of Self- Promotion. You can read more about the project itself from our awesome hosts Sophie, Kelly, and Liz.

    My topic is staying awesome during  a hiatus. My family recently relocated for my husband’s job and for a number of reasons it’s not practical for me to look for a job right away. We had a deal that when he was finally done with school I could take a little break. I love being a librarian, and will go back probably sooner rather than later so I want to stay on top of things during my break.  Here is how I’m doing that:

    1. Keeping up with my Professional Learning Network

    This is a fancy way of saying that I’m following a lot of great librarians on Twitter and I read a lot of blogs. I added a large number of blogs to my RSS reader which is Feedly at the moment. I was already following a good number of librarian blogs and added more, as well as a number of book blogs and child focused blogs not run by librarians.

    2. Blogging

    I started this blog about the time our plans were confirmed. Not only does it help me stay a part of the library community but it keeps me accountable to read and think about library topics regularly. It encourages me to look for new ideas for programs and services and will be one way to show to future employers that I’ve stayed current on literature and best practices.

    3. Webinars

    With no desk schedule to meet I have a lot of free time to take advantage of free webinars. I’ve participated in webinars on the Common Core, serving children on the Autism spectrum, and book previews just in the last little while. School Library Journal, YALSA, and ALSC regularly offer webinars and some past offerings are available to members for free.

    4. Chats and Conferences

    There are a number of youth services and literature related Twitter chats. Usually these are done around a hashtag with a leader asking questions and participants tweeting their responses. I try to participate in each #readadv chat, and #ewyagc. I’ve seen many good discussions in #libchat, #alscchat, and #titletalk as well. Try searching the hashtag in Twitter to find out when the next session of each is scheduled.

    5. Reading

    If you’ve been working full time you probably imagine being unemployed as a paradise of unlimited reading time. Somehow I haven’t quite managed to make that work yet. Between family obligations, household duties, blogging, and committee work I don’t get as much done as I’d like. Still, reading is a necessary part of keeping on top of things. In addition to titles for youth don’t forget to take time to check out titles on topics like early childhood development or youth participation that can inform your thinking for the better.

    Libraries Youth Services

    How to Burn Out as a Youth Services Librarian


    It happens to the best librarians, sometimes you just don’t have any more to give. Here are some thoughts on what leads to youth librarian burnout and hopefully it can be prevented.

    How To Burn Out:

    1. Adopt every controversial library and kidlit issue on a personal level.

    We should know what is going on and, of course, we need to advocate for our kids and teens. However, it seems like there is a new library controversy every week and that’s not even counting the internal drama at our places of work. We need to ignore some of it. Just don’t click the link. Youth Services librarians will still be around when everything else turns to ash. We can probably spend less time validating our existence to other librarians, since the PEW study makes it clear our patrons totally get it.

    2. Compare your collections, services, and programs to other libraries constantly.

    There is nothing wrong with learning from each other, it’s one of the things I think youth services librarians do really well. On the other hand, comparing ourselves to better funded, staffed, or located libraries or libraries with a very different patron base then our own just leaves us feeling inferior. Take a minute to celebrate what you are doing for your community. When you envy another library program consider how your resources and patrons differ. It might be good but it might not be possible. It might not even be what your patrons need. On the other hand, if they match up then go for it!

    3. Be so focused on the big picture and/or administrative issues that you don’t get to actually interact with patrons.

    If you love being a librarian because you enjoy working with kids and/or teens and helping them get what they need then make sure to make time for doing that. Especially as we become coordinators or managers it’s all too easy to spend our days on meetings, training, budgeting, and other things that don’t have the same magic. Find a few hours to be on the reference desk, work an outreach event, or offer to do storytime next week. You’ll feel much better.

    4. Say yes to everything.

    We want to help people. We want to serve our patrons. We want to be visible members of the community. That’s all great but if we say yes to every outreach event, group program request, partnership suggestion, and grant-writing opportunity we can’t possibly do all of them well. Work with your supervisor to prioritize these opportunities so they fit your library’s goals. Maybe you can even connect some of those groups to each other so everyone wins.

    5. Judge yourself by program numbers alone.

    This is an easy trap to fall into. Big splashy programs with big numbers are easy ways to show our impact to administration. They make great blog posts, tweets, and conference programs but what percentage of your patrons does that measure? Don’t forget about all the other ways that we serve people. The biggest impact you made this week might be the struggling reader who finally finished a book you helped them find, or the middle-schooler that passed algebra because you showed him how to use online tutoring.

    6. Read only what you “should” read.

    Sure, it’s not all about books but most of us do this because we love books to one extent or another. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of reading the “big buzz books” or the “starred review books” or what you need to get done for programs and forget to make time to read books because you actually want to read them. At some point our reading slows down, then we feel guilty for not reading enough, and that makes it even worse. Read for fun. You never know when that will be the perfect book for work anyway!

    7. Do everything yourself.

    Yes, we know best but sometimes we need to delegate. What jobs can be left to a volunteer? To a paraprofessional? What book can we skip and just read reviews instead? It might not be as perfect as if we did it ourselves, but it will be done. If it doesn’t make a difference in service let it go. Don’t forget that your assistants/clerks/volunteers can’t develop skills if they are never challenged.