Youth Librarianship & Innovation
During one of the recent dust-ups about the worth/importance/immediacy of youth librarian's work vis a vis the larger library world (sorry, but I refuse to link to posts where the troglodyte comments are too depressing to read), one comment in particular rocked my socks off. The writer sniffed that during the time she worked as a youth librarian she had never seen anything done in an innovative way.
Wow. Simply, wow. I am never at a loss in finding youth folks pushing the envelope of innovation. Check out my blog roll on the left for just a small selection of innovators. Colleagues working at small libraries; colleagues working with tots; colleagues working with teens..I mean, really, I see so much innovation, sometimes I think my eyes will bleed, my brain will pop and my heart will bust...all from happiness, of course!
I got thinking about this when Amy over at Show Me Librarian blogged about how she pushed her thinking forward while doing a literacy night. She liked the positives happening with school partnerships but started visioning and problem solving while out at schools. She saw new paths and blocks to build on. It is leading her to innovate and do more effective work that is simply...more...and better...and wow!
That's how innovation happens, in my opinion. You chat, you listen, you read, you reflect and when you are in a situation, you start evolving your thinking and solving problems. R. Davis Lankes recently wrote that being a rock star librarian is getting people to question. I would posit that all innovation grows from questioning. Questioning and thinking and re-thinking and puzzling until a way becomes clear.
In the national youth services community, we are celebrating Library Journal's selection of one of our own - Melissa Depper, she of the marvelous Mel's Desk and a founder of Flannel Friday - as a Mover & Shaker. Her work is consistently innovative as well as foundational. She pushes the envelope and enfolds people through her mentorship and support and sharing with those around her. I am so, so pleased that she is a "sung hero".
Everyday, I watch my co-workers innovate and solve - two share what they know and discover through social media and blogs. Sara over at Bryce Don't Play and Brooke over at Reading with Red explore their paths to discovery. Like Amy; like Mel, they turn a clear eye and an inquiring mind to bringing service to the kids and the community. With their co-workers, I watch them invent, solve, innovate and create. Through this process their ideas - and mine - grow and change and our service evolves and becomes even better.
Innovation isn't technology. Innovation is evolution. Innovation is clearly connectivity.
Youth librarians have been pushing that innovation envelope for so long that "rock star" isn't even in the vocabulary anymore. We are all, at the least, galactic stars!