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Friday, February 12, 2016

You Want To Be The Best Librarian You Can Be? Listen to Circulating Ideas!

One thing I have learned in my 15 years as a librarian is that we are a fragmented bunch.  Much of that is out of necessity. For example, in order to be a great Youth Services librarian you have to focus on serving youth which leaves little time to think about what, for instance, special libraries are doing.

I take myself as an example. Now that I am not in a public library on a daily basis any more it has become even easier for me to have too narrow focus. Sure in my career I have been a law librarian, an adult reference librarian, a public library trustee, a teen librarian, a school library volunteer, and, of course, a RA librarian.

I know that is a broader range than most, but still, for the last 13 years, most of my days have been spent either helping leisure readers OR training library workers to help leisure readers.

We all have this problem. But who has the time to pull back and take a broader view? Thankfully, Steve Thomas does.  Steve is a branch manager for a GA public library. He has a busy career being a librarian and manager. He is good at his job, but five years ago, he was grasping for ways to pull back and see the big picture. He wanted to connect with others in his profession on a more regular basis. Going to conferences is one way to do that, but those opportunities are few and far between.

So instead of just bemoaning the situation, Steve set out to create  a solution [much like I did when I created this blog]-- The Circulating Ideas Podcast.

Below is a statement from Steve Thomas directly. I asked him to write something because listening to his podcast has made me a better librarian...period. Yes, as you will see below, I shared my thoughts on readers’ advisory on the podcast, but that was to add my expertise to the mix to help others. The reason I actively support and promote the podcast is because of how much Circulating Ideas has helped me.

Each episode connects me to a library worker whose professional expertise and experiences are different from mine. Each episode allows me to grow as a librarian opening me to new ideas and trends. Each episode is a teaching moment, a chance for me to sit back, reflect upon the entirety of this wonderful profession, and appreciate what each library worker out there, trying to make a difference, brings to The Library.

So all I ask is that you listen and open yourself up to the full range of what librarians do. It will make you better at your own library job, no matter what your specific focus is.

When I started the Circulating Ideas podcast in 2011, I wanted to expand my own personal learning network and share the great work that librarians were doing for their communities to keep libraries vibrant in the 21st century. The drawback to the audio medium, however, is that it is less accessible than words on a page, not to mention that a large portion of the populace simply has no interest in audio as a learning medium. So in 2015, I ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to have the archives of the podcast so that I could post them on the website, making the content more findable, searchable, and most importantly, more accessible (if you would like to help keep the transcripts coming, you can find out how to support the show here).

Becky Spratford, the owner of the fine site you're currently reading, was on the show in the fall of 2014, after she had invited me to speak at the Illinois Library Association conference, and you can find the transcript of her interview here. Becky is a longtime supporter of the show and if you're reading this site, you know about her expertise in all things readers' advisory. I appreciate all that Becky has done to bring the show to the attention of more librarians, because sharing the knowledge in these interviews is what it's all about. I certainly enjoy the conversations and learn myself, but I feel a responsibility to let that information free into the world. You might say that I want to circulate the ideas.

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