Monday, May 24, 2010

Pretending to be a Librarian: Five Reasons Why Librarians Have the Best Job in The World

SJK Library The view from my desk, at left.

Today – in fact, all week – I am pretending to be the librarian at my son’s school.  While the professional is away on a week’s vacation, the amateur (moi) is sitting at the desk, checking books in and out, helping with the occasional research request, shelving the returns, reading stories and poems to every class in the lower grades and, basically, providing access.

What a gift!  To be able to spend the whole day surrounded by books.  To be able to read stories to kids (not a relative among them) and hear their responses. To pretend to be a librarian.

So, in honour of my temporary gig, here’s a list of reasons why I believe librarians have the best job in the world.

1. Books. Surrounded by books.  Handling books. The feel, smell, sight, sound of books.  You can have your Kindle, people.  Give me a real book any day. 

2. Readers.  Readers love discussing books with other readers.  Imagine having a job that requires you to interact daily, and in a concrete way, with readers?  Talking about books, authors, stories, illustrations…heaven!

3. Kids. In a school library, kids are the energy that lights the room.  They are hungry for books, information and stories.  And reading a story out loud to a group of attentive children must be at the top of the Fun Things To Do In A Library hit list. 

4. Information.  Tons of it.  Some of it accessed through computers, some of it found by lifting a book off the shelf and leafing through its pages.  The room positively hums with information, all waiting to be discovered. And every source has been searched out, vetted and tested by a librarian.  They are the wizards of research.

5. Oasis. Refuge. Peace. Order.  Like water to a thirsty traveller, a safe haven in stressful times, a quiet corner to escape the chaos of daily life, a place where numbers and letters tell you exactly where to find what you’re looking for…

That’s the world librarians create. Wish I could do this job every day!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

The end of the Writer In Residence adventure: Roots and Wings

Thank you roses WIR Hillfield

When all was said and read, they gave me roses.

Truthfully, I didn’t need any token of thanks – the experience of working with fifteen gifted young writers was thanks enough.  And hearing them present their stories with poise and professionalism in front of an audience of parents, teachers, school administrators and peers was inspiring. 

It had been an eight-month journey which began with a getting-to-know-you afternoon (we called it a “writers’ sweatshop”), continued with one-on-one feedback, lots of emails, and a session devoted to fine-tuning (e.g. “show, don’t tell”) – or nudging and tweaking, as I like to call it.

The final step was our evening of readings.  The study room was transformed into an elegant theatre, with tablecloths, centerpieces, soft lighting and vases of pink roses on every table.  Just like a “real” authors night!  In fact it was a real authors night, and as their companion on this journey, I was so very proud of what we accomplished together.

I believe that education gives us roots; education in the arts gives us wings.  The world needs people who can fly, and my young writers are well on their way to soaring.

And…they gave me roses!

 Jean Mills, Writer