Only 23 hours left until I retire at the end of the month. Even though I've been working part-time for the last few years, it will be strange to be not working at all. However, it is time to move on.
I consider myself an accidental children's librarian. I was hired simply because I was available even though I had little experience. I had taken the children's literature course in library school so I was not completely ignorant. I had worked occasionally in the children's department as a trainee (where I learned to pin a sausage to a puppet's nose in the dark). Later I volunteered in my children's school library so I was able to observe professionals at work. That was it. I think I did one storytime as a trainee but once I had my MLS I worked in adult services. Becoming a mom changed my perspective. I was fortunate enough that I was able to stay home with my children for 11 years. During that time I discovered that I enjoyed being with children and that I had considerable patience, so when a part-time position as a children's librarian came up I applied. I figured that I would move on to something else later. Evidently there wasn't much competition for I was hired.
I ended up spending my first month in adult services covering for a librarian who was away so I had plenty of time to prepare for my first storytime session. When I started planning my first storytimes, I knew I wasn't going to read a few books and call it a program. I couldn't carry a tune so singing was not an option. I went through the small professional collection and discovered a book of flannel board stories and a series of draw and tell stories. My storytime format took shape. I also added finger puppet rhymes and cut and tell stories to my programs. These were all formats I enjoyed. I was probably not the best storyteller in the beginning but because I enjoyed what I was doing, the children enjoyed themselves as well. I have done the same types of stories throughout the years adapting the format for various ages. I used more music and rhymes with the toddlers (I found some great prerecorded songs) and told stories with props in family storytime.
My next challenge was summer reading. I found out in May that I was doing this program so there was a great deal of frenzied planning. It ended up being a very successful summer though I did some major tweaking the following year. One of the crafts, stenciling a tee shirt, became an annual tradition.
After that summer, the part-time position became a full-time position. I worked at that library for 15 years, learning and growing. I attended workshops, meetings and conferences so that I could learn from my peers. Although I worked the adult desk on my night and Saturdays, I never had any desire to return to adult services. Being the only youth services person was challenging and often stressful but I enjoyed the freedom of developing my own programs.
Each of us has our own journey and our own story to tell. We may take different paths but our goal is the same. We all hope to make a positive difference in the lives of young people. I hope that I have done so in my career.