In a few months, I will celebrate ten years working as a high school librarian. Excitingly, I’ve spent them all in the same high school library. Whoever I speak to, whether it’s my colleague daily or a community member, it’s readily apparent from my excitability and speed-talking that my favorite part of librarianship is readers advisory. The days I leave the library feeling most accomplished are the ones where I’ve spent the most time connecting students with books, talking about books, or reading (yes, we have created READ days where the only job of the visitor is to sit and read. We provide the hot chocolate and the modeling, so in between filling the urns, we’re reading too).
This past Friday I spent the day at our alternative learning center, a smaller environment for students in transition or that need something different than a large school of 2,500 students. Invited by the English teacher, she was embarking on an independent reading project and needed some expertise. I packed up three large boxes of fiction and nonfiction in all kinds of formats and including all types, some in multiples knowing that they’d be a hit. And I spent the entire day connecting with the class and then individually with each student. They “tasted” the books in a particular genre or format and maybe even one that I slipped in for good measure outside of their usual box. And what I left with was an amazing sense of pride in what I do and why I do it and a few new library lovers based on our positive interaction and the care I took in listening to what they liked and sharing passionately what I liked.
Days like those are why I go to work all day and why I read voraciously outside of work. But it’s not enough to just have the knowledge, it’s necessary to have passion behind it. Because that passion translates to trust. I’ve had students where I would check out a book I knew they would love and casually walk by them slipping it into their bag without another word. I’ve had students who brought other students in who would have never come on their own because “she knows books”. And all of the students in between, including the group of seniors I wrote about in June of last year. They are why I love my job and do what I do.