Tag Archives: Growing

#TTW10 : Connecting With People (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

Me, at the very beginning of my time in Library school.
Me, at the very beginning of my time in Library school.

I decided to be a librarian in late 2006 at the urging of my mother in law Jill.  She had been a librarian for many years and spoke of her work very passionately.  With a simple poke and a simple “you know, you’d be good at this library thing“, I was off to attend Clarion University of Pennsylvania in January 2007.

When I was a kid visited the Northland Public Library in Pittsburgh, PA on a weekly basis.  I remembered two things about my time there: they had rabbits in the children’s area and they had the best selection of books on whales in the whole wide world.  Oh yeah, and I thought it was a super fun and magical place.  To me, that’s what libraries needed to be.

My time in library school was good but I always fell out of place.  I wanted to have fun!  I wanted the library to be this amazing place full of wonder, joy, exploration, and full of heart!  Instead, I found myself writing out cataloging records by hand or presenting papers on teen literature.  I got something out of that but…there was another side.

Enter Tame The Web in early 2008.

Instead of talking about  what goes in the 250 field in a bib record , Tame The Web was talking about things I could relate to: What Kind of Conversations can you have?  My Library is…A Rock Show!  I could relate to this.  It was full of wonder, joy, and exploration!  This was real.  This was people connecting with people.

Since those days that’s been my focus with being a teen librarian.  In order to succeed and give the community what they want, I realized that connection had to come first.  All of those other things: collection development, cataloging records, and all of the other stuff I learned in library school were very important and had their place but first and foremost….IT’S ABOUT PEOPLE.  I feel like it has worked out pretty well for me and the communities that I’ve served.

This taught me something else that was somewhat unexpected: there is so much value in connecting with your professional community.  Through library blogs, Twitter, and other social networks, I have met a number of people that not only do I now call my friends but also who have given me so much professional advice and aided in my growth as a librarian and as a person.

All because of a blog that was started ten years ago.  I don’t know if Michael thought about these kinds of things when he started Tame The Web, but they happened.  And I thank him for that.  What may have seemed like a ripple at the time has now created a very positive and helpful tidal wave.

 

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Librarian Identity (by TTW Contributor Justin Hoenke)

Early in my career, I made the mistake of mentioning in one of my one of my presentations that I was one of those librarians that didn’t read a lot but somehow got into libraries.  Since then, I don’t think I’ve been able to live that down.  To some, I’ve become “ that teen librarian  who doesn’t read” and to some extent I think that’s hurt me.  I was wrong in saying that I don’t read.  In fact, I read quite a bit:

  • I read the most on my phone (news, gaming, music, sports, RSS feeds)
  • I play video games, all of which either require at least some reading
  • I read two stories to my son every night
  • I currently have one book I am reading on my Kindle

My statement that “I don’t read” was said to grab audience attention.  Maybe it did that at the time, but as I look back at the ramifications of my statement and I wish I hadn’t said that at all.  People now ask me “how can you be an effective teen librarian if you don’t read?”.  The statement that “I don’t read” has also been questioned when it comes to my advocacy for video gaming as literacy.  Saying that “I don’t read” has diluted my message that gaming can be an effective form of literacy.  Why would someone want to listen to someone talk about how much reading is in video games when that someone is also saying “I don’t read” in the same sentence?

This has got me thinking about librarian identity and how we always have to be mindful of what we say and how we present ourselves.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve focused on creating an identity for yourself over a few years because, like the “I don’t read” example above, those little moments can really shape your identity.  Taking the road which shocks someone may get someone’s attention, but is that the kind of attention that you want to remain focused on you?

Recommended reading:
Professionalism Matters in Job Search by Michael Stephens
Piling On on the web by Stephen Abram

Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor