I always assumed I would get my MLIS. It’s what you DO when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life working at a public library. I’ve been encouraged to do so by every supervisor I’ve ever had. I’ve been encouraged to do so by our last director and our current director. Many people I respect graduated from Wayne State-which is the most convenient and economical option for this Michigander. I’ve explored University of Wisconsin at Madison. I’ve looked into University of Denver. I checked out University of Michigan.
I just…it all just…well…doesn’t…interest me.
Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely respect that degree and I definitely respect people who have chosen to get that degree.
But as I spend more time in youth services and I hone in on what it is I’m really passionate about I’m starting to wonder if I really need to take “Foundations of Library and Information Science” and “Introduction to the Information Profession.”
Here’s what I want to do:
I want to develop programming for caregivers and children 0-3 years old. I want to identify partners in communities providing services for this population and I want to support them with outreach opportunities highlighting best practices including ECRR. I want to create a network of organizations dedicated to supporting this population and I believe the public library is an appropriate place to do this.
My love of toddler storytime is well known. After each session, I evaluate what I believe worked and what did not. I incorporate new elements based on independent research I have done: books I have read, articles I have stumbled across, webinars and professional development opportunities. And this session it became abundantly clear with attendance numbers, programming for 3s and under in my community is very much needed. I love my storytime kids and caregivers. It truly is the best part of my job.
BUT there are so many people in my community who are not able to attend my storytimes. Two working caregivers, lack of transportation, wrong time of day, caregivers intimidated by how it all “works” (What if I have fines on my card? Can I still attend storytime? How do I handle a child who wants to check items out but I owe too much?), language barriers and simply not knowing what’s the big deal about storytime anyway?
One of the main reasons I’ve become so attracted to this population is that I honestly, truly, 100% believe that if every caregiver knew how important reading, talking, playing, writing, and singing is to the brain development of their infants and toddlers, the world would change. And I also believe there are a lot of people who have no idea how any of that reading, talking, playing, writing and singing even looks like with an infant or toddler.
And I believe it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars to extend the reach outside the library.
My current job is definitely not only about storytime. I work at our local Boys and Girls Club with elementary kids. I provide parent training at local schools on how to read with your child. I provide tours for preschools-5th graders. I provide programming for school aged children and families. I am assigned desk hours to provide reference for our department. And I love just about every single one of those parts of my job.
But my dream? My dream is early literacy.
So, an MLIS just doesn’t seem to be the right path for me. I am completely self-taught right now. I know I am a lifelong learner, but I also know I my dream won’t come close to coming true unless I get an advanced degree no matter how many books I’ve read or webinars I watch or conferences I attend.
I’m more than open to suggestions.