Tag Archives: librarian

Bona Fide

A child approached my desk at work today and asked a question:

“Did you compete in writing competitions

when you were our age, Mrs D?”

My curiosity as to why he would ask such a question was stalled by my need to flex my credentials, describing writing competitions I had won from a young age and my experience of writing poetry and stories throughout my youth. Watching his expression of surprise and then understanding, I went back to my original response and asked him, why?

He surprised me. He said, “Because we do a lot more writing competitions now, more than before. I thought that it was because of you!”

It took me a moment to think about this. I couldn’t deny the fact that I supported and campaigned for many writing opportunities within the school – it just didn’t occur to me that I was huge part of the influence – or, at least, the children thought so. Being a part of a wonderful literacy team that pushes for children to have these opportunities didn’t necessarily mean that I was the reason for change. Maybe it had always been there, but not so prevalent as we have it now with all the clubs and enrichment days.

One might say I’m over-thinking it, but this child’s answer touched a nerve. You see, I have been fighting a complex for many years. The stigma of who we are when our super-writing coats hang back in our caves while we go out into the real world to fill our coffers has confused me. Am I a writer pretending to be a librarian or am I a librarian pretending to be a writer? Can I call myself a writer if I have not produced a book in that last few years or can I call myself a true librarian working part-time?

All these questions float around and stew…and stew…and stew! The way I identify myself during introductions has changed too. When I first decided to become a fully-fledged writer, I shyly mumbled that I was a wannabe author. After my first book, my shoulders pressed back and I declared my author status to friends and acquaintances. Now that a few years have passed since my last novel, I’m back to being a Librarian – the title of author gathering dust at the back of my cave.

Drawing back to my earlier conversation with said pupil, it dawned on me that I am one in the same person. I am a writer, author, librarian, sad cow who hypothesizes over her silly titles when she has so little time as it is and mother! I’m influencing young minds to read and write and enjoy it.  I’m fulfilling all roles, titles, whatever-you-want-to-call-it and it’s okay. I don’t have to be one thing and not acknowledge the other. As long as I stay true to my profession: someone who shares in the experience of the written word, in whatever capacity, I am being true to who I really am. And that pleases me immensely. I am a bona fide writer/librarian!

It’s a trivial thing but something I wanted to share with you. Do you find certain roles/titles waylaid as you plough through life? What’s your take on this subject?

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Building A Tree – Building Imagination

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you might be aware that I started building a tree earlier this year in the library where I work. Well, with a lot of effort and help from an amazing artist, Nicci, and my daughter, Savi, we finished her.  She now resides in her little alcove where we used to have an ICT suite, recumbent against a mural backdrop of a forest filled with dappled light and birch trees.  Her branches reach up to the ceiling and give the impression that she has broken through to find the blue sky above.

Some of the teachers and parents smile and nod when I try to explain why I would build a tree in a library and my answer is, why not?  We need to motivate our children to read and enjoy books.  What better way than bringing in a source of old stories, fairytales, adventures and the paper the books are printed on…a tree!  Putting it in such a simple way demeans the principle of Grandmother Tree’s existence.  She has created a space where children can laugh and play under the safety of her branches.  They cuddle Sir Sid Quirell, the resident squirrel and postman who helps deliver the letters written to children who have re-discovered the art of writing letters to their beloved tree. Grandmother Tree might understand technology, but relies on corresponding through the written word and pictures sent her way by the postbox next to her tree trunk.

The children are waiting to hear her story.  They want to know her age and what she has seen in her lifetime, the books she has read and whether or not she has met Dr Who!  Their excitement and fervour to write about themselves and their likes and dislikes encourage this old tree to share her tales.  When the time comes to comfort a child or calm the storm clouds threatening tantrums, what better way than sitting on the bench near her and discussing their troubles?

As a librarian, I try to encourage children to respect books, read them and return them to the library.  With Jabba the Postbox ready to accept returns and Grandmother Tree aware of the children’s efforts to read more, I have more books returning each week than I have had in the past two years running the library.  It’s a positive effect that is pleasing to teachers and children alike.  It reduces disappointment when they are refused a new book until they return their old one.

Yes, I realise that the novelty of having a tree in the library with slowly taper off.  But, as we reach a new season, she will change her leaves, adopt the persona of a snow queen or a cherry blossom as the seasons demand.  The carpet will soon turn green and lush with artificial grass so that the children can honestly be swept away from the world when they enter their own magical forest in their school library.  Now, who said a librarian’s job is boring!