Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What Have I Learned?

In my original post,  I endeavored to answer two questions: 

  1. What youth services means as a profession? -and-
  2. What youth services means to me?

Returning back to Virginia Walters' "Six Tenets of Youth Services Librarianship", I feel that she was right on the mark, for the most part.  Throughout the course of publishing this blog, I have come to realize that while Reader's Advisory, Storytelling, and Booktalks are amazing tried and true tools for promoting reading, I do not think they are they only tools for doing so.  To this end, building diverse collections and establishing thorough collection development policies also invariably promote reading, not to mention collaboration efforts undertaken by librarians and the role of technology in learning.  

Here is a list of some other key takeaways I have uncovered with regard to the profession( in no particular order):

  • A child's development is cumulative, with each stage building upon the previous one, effectively underscoring the importance of the library's place in a child's life. 
  • We begin to read from the moment we touch a book, are spoken to, and are read to - it is beyond essential to take advantage of this concept and to communicate this notion to parents and caregivers.
  • Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) represents the best method for establishing literacy skills, successfully leading to increased reading proficiency.
  • Collaboration is crucial to achievement!!   Collaboration amongst public and school librarians, and school librarians and teachers results in increased learning for children/teens.
  • When working with teens, it is important to remember that while everyone struggles with identity issues over the course of his or her life and  with finding his or her place in the world, keep in mind that teens are doing it for the very first time.  As such, it may be increasingly overwhelming for them.  Librarians can support teens in this regard.
  • Young adults DO read!!  It might not be the traditional book format, but they do!
  • Selection policies are essential in substantiating a link between the library and professional ethics and ideals such as Intellectual Freedom.
  • Furthermore, professional ideals such as diversity must be specifically spelled out in such policies - it is dangerous to gloss over these fundamental values, assuming they are a "given."
  • Librarians must build diverse collections, not only embodying a wide range of diverse perspectives, but also a wide range of formats.  Digital resources are simply a way of the new millennium and engender many unique benefits in their own right (space saving, cost efficiencies, remote access, etc.)
  • Finally, librarians must impart valuable information literacy skills to their students/patrons (their survival in the 21st century depends upon it!), and teach them how become critical evaluators and ethical users of information.
When it comes to what youth services librarianship means to me, I still think that the focus upon the individual child remains Walters' strongest tenet.  Moreover, I have learned that librarians and educators can truly make a difference in the lives of their patrons, especially upon considering at-risk populations, for whom the library may be the only source of information and access.  I mean, I obviously already deeply believed in this idea, otherwise I would not be in this profession, but this course and blog helped me cement the why and more importantly the how.  

In closing, I am tempted to return to what I acknowledged in my first blog post.  That to me, youth services librarianship means establishing a genuine connection with each patron or student.  I truly think that is the foundation upon which everything rests.

Thank you for coming along this blog odyssey with me - I sincerely hope that this blog has inspired to stay connected to the existing community of Youth Services professionals, colleagues, and students!!


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