26 September 2009
Not to go on about it, but for anyone who might have wondered just what a professional librarian is supposed to be able to do, and why it's not just about loving books, the Association for Library Service to Children has updated their competency requirements. School Library Journal reported about the update earlier this week. Librarians serving children should be up to snuff on everything from Babar to Web 2.0.
I read this with interest, because just this morning I was thinking about the reasons I became a librarian in the first place. And in looking back on my decision, it was never about the books. It was never about being helpful, although there is an undeniable rush when I am able to connect a patron to exactly what they want. It's all about the information. I wanted a job where I could ferret around and learn stuff. And in that regard, librarianship has pretty much lived up to that criteria. Just this morning I learned, along with a patron, about making vegetarian smoothies. I'm pretty sure I'll never make one, but I now know where to look if I want to (Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko.) The reason I find book banning and challenges so troublesome is that they stop the flow of the information; the continuing process of daily learning, even if what you learn is not something you will personally adopt or absorb. In a world where everyone has an opinion, it's important to have a place where people--and more specifically, kids--can access information without being judged or questioned. It's a responsibility I take seriously.
So that's why I wanted to be a librarian, but to actually perform as a well-rounded professional, there's a whole bunch of other stuff I have to be able to do, from attending workshops to enduring an irate patron who is giving her local public servant a piece of her mind (I had that pleasure earlier this week.) And the ALSC has most kindly indentified all those necessary skills and put them in a handy document to remind me, and inform non-librarians, of just what it is I need to do. So if I get a little tetchy because it is suggested that anyone who is kid-savey and kind can be a librarian, just remember that my job is more than stacking bestsellers on a shelf.