There was a time, not too long ago because I really haven’t been a librarian for very long, when attending a library conference made me feel awful. I would sit in all these sessions and hear what these amazing librarians were doing for their community and I just felt not good enough. Hearing about the wonderful and innovative things that were happening in libraries around me should have galvanized me and spurred me on to good library programs.
But they didn’t. They made me inferior. I don’t know if I thought that I could never have interesting ideas, or that I couldn’t execute a program, or that I didn’t think we had the money or the librarian buy-in to do things, I don’t know. But I thought that presenting programs at conferences was something very successful amazing librarians did and I was just going to be an “in the trenches” librarian. I may not doing anything spectacular but I was still going to be good at my job. In a quiet sort of way.
I did programs like NELLS (aka library summer camp) and had a YALSA mentor to help me feel more confident. They helped tremendously but I managed to still feel that terrible mix of jealousy and self-contempt when I heard of other libraries’ great programs. Then this year I spent one day at the Massachusetts Library Conference where librarians were excited about their programs for one hour a week, self-directed staff learning, or a book bike, or awesome web tools like IFTTT that make some of our work more streamlined. The programs and speakers were great and I was excited to see them.
Then I got home, went to work the next day, and told coworkers about the panels I attended. As I was talking to a friend, I realized I wasn’t feeling that sad, deep-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach-bad-feeling. I felt fine. Clare and I were coming off a very successful and well-loved Teen Poetry Contest and reception, and I had just done another library sponsored Pub Trivia. Our social media numbers were up, summer reading was planned, and a few teachers from one of the middle schools reached out to us (unheard of!) to collaborate on some programs. It’s not all successes: I’ve had a string of crafts in the teen room that have not been popular at all but that just makes me realize I’ve been lazy with my planning; we’re struggling with our summer volunteer programs but we know we’ll figure it out; and more road bumps along the way.
It’s not going perfectly, but I’m doing pretty well. And maybe someday I’ll present at a conference. Or not. But it doesn’t make it difference because I have some confidence in my job. And boy does it feel good.
P.S. You should read Hausfrau. Get over your desire for “likeable” characters and read it. The writing is spectacular and the main character’s name is Anna. So that’s something. But really, it’s incredible. Anna makes really bad choices and yet manages to be interesting, sympathetic, and pitiful all at once.
P.P.S. I’ll mostly likely be applying to be the Hub manager and may be writing for Women Write About Comics, which I’m pretty excited about. Both of those things may affect my already dismal record of updating this blog, but I’ll keep you posted.