Monday, April 21, 2008

Baby librarians

I just spoke to a group of library school students, who were here at the library on a field trip. They were really interested in what I had to say because they don't often get the chance to talk to actual librarians.

I felt so sorry for them. They all looked so beat down and miserable, it made me remember how much I hated library school. Whatever sucks about being a librarian, it doesn't suck nearly as much as being in library school.

For one thing, most of what they teach you in library school is patently stupid. For example, book talking. Book talking is just what it sounds like: Talking to people (in this case, teenaged people) about books in an effort to convince them to read those books. It's true that this is something we teen librarians do all the time--in the library, at schools, wherever. The general gist of it usually is: "Look at this awesome book! And this one! And this one!"

But you know what we don't do? We don't put on a little one-person play about the book, involving costumes and/or sound effects. And do you know why we don't do that? Because any teenager worth his salt would EAT YOU ALIVE if you did that. You might as well walk into a classroom and say, "Hello kids, I am a giant asshat! Please begin to snicker at me now!"

And yet, the costume idea is the sort of thing they are just nuts about in library school. "So, I really liked the way you discussed this medieval fantasy about a king," the library school teacher will say, "but I think it really would have been better if you had been wearing a crown. And holding a scepter. And maybe if you had called for your fiddlers three!"

The soul-crushing thing is that these people, the teachers, they usually mean well. I don't think they actually have a vendetta against upcoming librarians or are trying to drive them out of the profession or anything. But they don't tend to visit actual libraries very often, and I'm convinced they've never met any teenagers.


Librarian Girl said...

The nice thing though? Is that when the baby librarians come talk to us, they think we are the BEST THING EVER. Not that we aren't, but to them? You can see the adoration coming out of their eyes that you aren't telling them that they need to do a fingerplay about Catcher in the Rye.

Kyla said...

Why do I hate/tolerate library school? Because of "library trends" that library school is intent on teaching you in the fear of being irrelevant. They are the Wizard of Oz and they don't want you to look behind the curtain. Social networking and libraries? like seriously? you want me to pay tuition money for this? Puhleeeze.
PS - if UW weren't such skinflints, it could have been me asking you questions as a baby librarian. damn them.

librarianista said...

LG, it does warm my heart to see the admiration in the baby librarians' eyes. Because I was THEM--convinced I'd never get a job and deeply impressed with anyone who had. And also anyone who was saying anything that didn't sound like 100% bs.

Kyla, it's so true. Library school teachers are so obsessed with not looking like lame-os that they usually refuse to teach anything useful. Sometimes library school professors contact me now to sort of ask my approval on their syllabi (I know! Crazy!), and it will be like, 7 weeks of a Young Adult Materials class spent on podcasting, and 1 week on YA books.

It sounds like your program does at least teach classes relevant to public librarianship, though. UW seems to really believe that public libraries will be gone any second now.

Lisa said...

No way: how to pick a costume to wear while book talking is what I missed by not taking a YA or public librarianship class?! All this time I thought maybe I missed something useful!

I liked library school because I thought I was going back to Career 1, museums, and took lots of great archives and special collections classes. Instead, I used skills from Career 2 (professional Girl Scout, specializing in teens and outdoor programs) -- and that shiny new degree -- to become a YA librarian. Go know.

readersguide said...

You are completely right about library school -- mine was a bunch of people who had never worked in a library telling us all about it. And not only that, but they were also so deeply odd! I had sort of forgotten. Oh, and then they acted like it was all so socially meaningful. And maybe it is, but not in their creepy way. Ick.

AnnaC said...

i love the concept of a baby librarian!!