Being a Young Adult Librarian at a public branch one of my major responsibilities was class visits. I usually liked the first visit to be casual, informative and fun. An introduction that stresses that the library is a place to come for many different reasons. To find books you might enjoy, movies, programs, computers…and to do homework or research for school. I had shelves of books I couldn’t wait to tell them about and I wanted them to join my Advisory Group. Teachers on the other hand usually like the visit to be more curriculum based. I can see it from their perspective, maybe it’s been hard to get the visit scheduled or they don’t have a school library and the teacher wants to make the most of it. Well, I had come up against one of these teachers…she went so far as to tell me which titles she would like booktalked. Needless to say I was not happy. I called my Mentor and she gave me a piece of advice that I have been able to apply to many different situations in many facets of my life ’til this day. She said, part of your job as a librarian is helping her understand that your agendas overlap but….they are not the same. Then, you concentrate on where you overlap and make the teens happy.
If you think about it it’s true, many little hiccups that we encounter can be solved by realizing how we are similar and where in our professional relationships we can align. The teacher didn’t realize that I could go to the school for follow up visits. I would visit each semester, we built a rapport. I recommended new titles and booktalked some teacher requests. It was a win win for everyone especially the teens, who became regular library users.
I am all for letting your flair flag fly but librarians must look for opportunities to find allies in each other and other professionals with whom our agendas overlap. Libraries are kind of like countries eventhough they are populated by the same elements, people, books, computers etc. each one is a Precious Little Snowflake and each one is the Perfect Place for the people who use it. WRONG! There is going to be a different agenda on the mind of every single person who walks into your library and part of your job as a librarian is finding out where your agendas overlap.
As Tara Cunningham says in her post for Third Sector Today about Precious Snowfake Syndrome:
“Once you recognize you have Precious Snowflake Syndrome, you will be on your way to a full recovery. You will be able to see opportunities to share your energy, your passion, your desire to find a solution to a societal problem. You will be able to hear about organizations you can collaborate or merge with. You will understand the greater truth: together we are stronger!”
So call a fellow professional and celebrate your similarites today! I can’t wait to hear about your creative collaborations.