I began my library career as a government documents librarian. What is that, you ask? Well, our tax dollars are spent—very well, from what I could tell—publishing various government documents. It can be as mundane as the yearly budget. And it can be as awesome as a pictorial history of our national parks. Really, there were some very high quality books in my collection, all available to the library for free. That’s right; we didn’t have to pay for them as we do for all our other materials. Socialism!
But, all things change. My system decided to condense its repositories, and mine was on the chopping block. Don’t worry, LL, they said, we’ll find you another position.
When I first interviewed, I was told that I wouldn’t have to be a children’s librarian if I didn’t want to. “You won’t be any good at it if you don’t have a passion for it, and the kids and parents will be able to tell.” So, what was this great new position they had for me? Yes! Children’s librarian!
I think I was too in shock at my fate to register disapproval. My director actually said “You have such a poker face I can never tell what’s going on.” But, I had just spent thousands of dollars to get my library degree, and I was going to be damned if I let a little matter like NEVER HAVING STUDIED CHILDREN’S LIBRARIANSHIP get in the way of a really good job.
I was trained by a wonderful children’s librarian, J, and took all her lessons to heart. By the time I took over my Storytime after about 2 months of training, I wasn’t even nervous.
And here’s the kicker: attendance at Storytime in my library before I arrived was, to put it bluntly, sparse. I don’t know if it’s that the moms and nannies and kids like seeing a bald guy up in front acting a fool, but rather soon after I took over my numbers just shot up. Last month I averaged about 100 attendees per session. I guess I’m not too bad at this children’s gig.
And how do I know I’m doing the right thing? Not by the attendance. No. By the hugs.
Lately, my kids have been taking to doing something they never did before. Either before or after Storytime, I’ll have a line of them waiting to hug me. Unprompted by me, unprompted by their adults. They just want to hug LL, and dammit, that’s what they’re going to do.
We didn’t get hugs in government docs.
So yes, the salary, the benefits, the work environment are all excellent and wonderful reasons to be a librarian. But for me? The icing on the cake is the hugging. Because unasked for hugs from your Storytime kids are the flapping of angels’ wings.
If you’re reading this and are thinking about becoming a librarian, don’t be afraid to read to kids. The benefits are enormous. And really, they’ll lap up most anything you have to offer. Just be prepared for a lot of crouching to hug tiny people.