Sunday, September 9, 2012

What youth services librarianship means to me

Greetings blogosphere!!!  My name is Courtney Novotny, and I am a proud student of the University Of Illinois' Graduate School of Library and Information Science.  Welcome to my blog, Courtney's Youth Booth!!!  My aim in authoring this blog pertains to exploring issues pertinent to Youth Services Librarianship and hopefully establishing a genuine connection to the existing community of Youth Services professionals, colleagues, and students.  I hope this blog gives all you readers something to think about, and please feel free to reach out to me at anytime to further the conversation!!!

And away we go.....

For my first official blog post, I thought it would be meaningful to start reflecting upon what youth services librarianship means as a profession and also what it means to me. I know- seems like a huge undertaking, right? However, I am embarking on this blogtastical journey with this mega question in anticipation that I can return to this concept later on down the road and see what has changed.

Youth librarianship essentially as we know it today, took rise during the Progressive Era (approx. 1870-1920), as Americans became increasingly concerned with the welfare of the country's children.  Tied to this concern was the widespread notion that reading "good" books would actually contribute to becoming a better person.  Librarians at the time responded by creating the children's librarian specialization, and even though society as a whole was more disquieted over the fact that the children may develop unscrupulous morals, the early pioneers of youth services librarianship conscientiously culled their collections with the aspect of child  appeal in mind.

In her 2010 book, Virgina A. Walter, Ph.D, recognized the following six tenets of youth service librarianship (in the public library) as most the most tantamount in terms of achieving success in the field

  • "Reading good books contributes to a good life."
  • "Readers' advisory services, storytelling, and booktalks are the key strategies for promoting reading."
  • "The individual child is the primary user of children's library service."
  • "The library's children's room is an integral element in library service to children."
  • "Children's librarians are the appropriate specialists who can best deliver service to children."
  • "Children's librarians are advocates for library services to children." (p.22-23)

School librarianship, also an important branch of youth services (and the topic of future posts), focuses on many of the same aspects, but also incorporates professional standards into the mix and stresses teaching information literacy in addition to fostering a love of reading.

So, in light of the past and the present modes of thinking, what does youth librarianship mean to me?

First, I wholeheartedly believe that every child should have access to library materials and services.  Reading most certainly has the power to transform the way in which we see the world, and part of youth services also pertains to assisting the patrons in developing multiple literacies to comprehend all the formats that information currently comes in - effectively changing the way we interact with the world.

Most importantly, to me, youth services librarianship means establishing a genuine connection with each patron or student.  It is through this one-on-one relationship with the child that librarians can work to not only create lifetime readers, but also readers who sincerely enjoy reading.  Today's youth services librarians are subsequently tasked with creating ethical users of information and teaching children to become critical thinkers in their own right. 

Obviously, technology and digitization also plays a huge role in the field and will continue to do so in the future.

All of these are important elements of the field, but I think there is also something more that I have yet to put my finger on....Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Courtney,
    I loved your comment that "reading has the power to transform the way in which we see the world." I think that is so true, especially as young kids when we are constantly emulating both people and characters we look up to. Those characters can literally shape children character's and as librarians we walk a fine line in helping to define "parts" of children's identities. Can't wait to for your next post!