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?
Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor