in which I attempt to be a rockstar teacher librarian :)

Posts tagged ‘introspective’

Yes, I’m talking about books and reading. Deal.

Nothing overly complicated to see here, folks. It’s just that I love reading for the sake of reading and many times, we talk about the things we enjoy most. Oh, I know, it’s a walking cliche for a wannabe rockstar school librarian to love reading, right? But here’s the thing — it shouldn’t be. You know why? Because we’re models for the students we encounter, the children we see on a regular basis, the infant who simply loves the sound of voice.

Logan, Medford, & Hughes have recently researched the effect of  intrinsic motivation on readers of all levels. They found (unsurprisingly) that “academic success for children is usually founded on their ability to read proficiently, as most subjects across the school curriculum rely, to varying extents, on reading skill.” (2011, p.124) The American Association of School Librarians’ Standards for the 21st Century Learner (2007) further stresses, “The degree to which students can read and understand text in all formats (e.g., picture, video, print) and all contexts is a key indicator of success in school and in life.”*

And that’s the thing — reading isn’t just for school. I read constantly for my job – task lists from my supervisor, documentation on how to order services at a conference (the comprehension level required for such documents feel astronomical at times), reading between the lines of an email to find what someone’s really asking. And that’s a life skill. A necessary one. Some jobs may seem to require less reading, and that’s fine: I know quite a few people who, I’m certain, were meant to work with their hands. (Farmers, among others, you rock). But I dare you to make it through a day – no, that’s ridiculous – I dare you to make it through five minutes without reading something. (Staring at the ceiling does not count, but that’s currently the only thing I can come up with that might work).

None of this is mind blowing, is it? I didn’t think so. But it was last night, when I wrapped up several hours of working on various graduate school assignments, and eagerly picked up the book I just started** as a form of mental relaxation and entertainment, that I realized for the gazillionth*** time just how fortunate I am. I grew up in a family that found value in reading for both work and for pleasure; my mother willingly took me the public library about once a week so I always had fresh reading material; I had teachers that encouraged using free time to read; I undertook an undergraduate degree that allowed me to research fascinating topics****. And now, I want my actions to further encourage young people to develop that intrinsic love of learning, of the written word, of the joys hidden within – and that’s why I do this. That is why I do all this. And it’s a good reminder.

* – taken from a recent collaborative assignment, focused on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
** – “The Wild Queen: The days and nights of Mary, Queen of Scots” – Carolyn Meyer. (Fictionalized history).
*** -Not a real number.
**** – My senior history thesis was on the presidency of Warren G. Harding, last president to come from the Great State of Ohio. By the time it was done, I referred to him as Warren G.
***** – Note this was written at an incredibly early time of the morning, before I’d consumed my usual coffee intake. Excuse the rambling.


reinventing: not a bad idea.

It’s 3:11 in the morning and I’m creating a new blog post. Because sometimes inspiration strikes, and the best thing to do is acknowledge it so that you can work past it.

We, as human beings in this somewhat-crazy world we live in, are constantly reinventing ourselves. I had an interesting and introspective conversation with a friend tonight that forced me to acknowledge that though, over time, I’ve had to change and reinvent myself, that’s not all for the bad. And to think this all began because I mentioned, half-jokingly and half-seriously, “oh no, I’m becoming my mother!” It brought me to a realization that not only isn’t this a bad thing, but it’s something I could embrace – and should embrace – if I’m truly to move forward and not horizontally on this never-ending track that is life. (Editor’s note: my mom is freaking awesome. I talk about her all the time, with good reason.)

My oldest brother has held more than 30 jobs in his life. Continually seeking the next good thing.
My next brother went from being a college drop-out to a sergeant in military intelligence. Now he works as a citizen for a federal intelligence agency, and is such a proud dad and husband that it gives me hope for the world.
My next brother (ed’s note: yes, I have three) went from being a soldier – the path he’d always envisioned himself on – to being a war veteran who now works what most would consider a minimum-wage job so that he can solely afford to travel and adventure. He sends me pictures of the wild animals he encounters – last ones I got were of a herd of elk.
My sister, known as the music and drama queen of the family, went on to become a therapist and works with severely disabled clients. It’s a good day at work when she can say someone actually improved a skill, and yet every day she trucks off with a bit of optimism in the tank.

I graduated high school (ed’s note: in a small town in Ohio!) and headed off to college. Everyone knew my path: get a degree in chemistry, take over the world, in that order of course. Within a year, I’d had numerous career-counseling sessions, declared an abhorrence for laboratory work, though I loved the theoretical, and switched my major to history. History, the field that most consider “the study of the past with lots of memorization of names and dates.” Three years later I graduated with a BA in history and approximately zero plans to pursue a career path specifically linked to that field.

Now, here I am. In a new state, at a new school, with new professors and a new path. I’ve reinvented myself yet again. From chemist to confused to historian to student all over again, with the hopes of going on to the librarian path. And how does any of this (minus the last clause of the last sentence) apply to school?

As a field, librarianship is continually changing. Like we mentioned with medicine, it didn’t go out of style and fail to exist simply because of germ theory. The field took itself where it needed to go, established itself as relevant yet again, and flourished. Librarianship has been doing the same thing over the ages. While we may have originally been the hunchbacked scribes, creating transcripts and storing them in a logical order, we are now ‘information professionals’. We are people with answers, and people willing to take the necessary steps to procure an answer. We have reinvented ourselves and maintained our relevancy through yet another age. We’re learning how to be ‘new librarians’ and excited to take what we’ve learned into the field to continue to shape it, mold it, and reinvent it, for the modern day.

But medicine didn’t continue because doctors decided to catch up to germ theory and figure it out. They didn’t decide to start developing pharmaceuticals because it was a way to make money off a disease (not starting a political discussion here, just roll with me). They successfully integrated their knowledge, the information at their fingertips, their willingness to serve, and their tangible goods, and created modern medicine. One would not consider going to a doctor who announced he only served, but would not dole out a physical drug to treat an ailment. Likewise one would be hesitant to approach a physician who claimed to write prescriptions, but was unwilling to listen to your list of symptoms and diagnose you first. In the same way, we as librarians must take up the challenge of integrating our willingness to serve the public with information, and the goods we have at our disposal with which to do so.

We can learn from the past. We can witness the present and all that we’re doing right. But we must also look to the future – to spy that which has not yet come over the horizon – to perceive that which is still as yet indiscernible – and be prepared to reinvent ourselves. Constant vigilance, my friends! The future is ours, should we bolster ourselves with just enough confidence to continue offering goodly service and servicely goods to those who seek them.

(Ed’s note: it’s now 3:34 AM and I’m actually tired now. Keep this in mind as you re-read that last sentence. Thank you, and good night.)