Monday, October 22, 2012

Life Behind the Reference Desk with MagpieLibrarian!

Remember when I used to post fun Life Behind the Reference Desk interviews with blogging librarians?? Yeah, I know, it's been a long time. But I hope to get this feature started afresh here at YA Librarian Tales and I have one heck of a kicker of an interview to offer you. Today, I'm featuring Ingrid (or MagpieLibrarian as I think of her in my head!) from The Magpie Librarian. You can find her on Twitter too! I'm SO SO excited to have Ingrid here at the blog today as she is a librarian and a blogger I really admire. She is also hella funny! So without further ado, here is Magpie Librarian!

1. What makes you passionate about your job?
I think most jobs will drive you a little nuts, but knowing that a library is an essential part of any community makes the insanity worthwhile. I don't think I could go through what I go through some days if what I was doing wasn't important. I've worked for libraries in a number of different neighborhoods and in each one I've seen how much the community needs the library. When people try and cut funding for the library, I become enraged. If I go into how necessary the library is, I'll write for several paragraphs and take up your whole blog. To make it short though, I think cutting funding from the public library is despicable. Every year we face budget cuts I say that I'm too sick of it all to fight for budget restoration, but I never mean it. I always pitch in because I think libraries are so vital to New York's wellbeing.

2. What has been your path to librarianship? Have you always wanted to be a librarian?
It's been a pretty messy path. I went to college as a theatre major with a music minor (presumably because I wanted to be as useless as possible). I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do with what I learned in college. I went through stages of directing children's theatre, working in a community center, being a nanny, teaching Mommy and Me-style classes, and being a daycare worker. I loved working with kids, but people don't really respect nannies and daycare workers in this country, even though they do very important work. So, my aunt suggested I go back to school for a Masters in Library Science. It was pretty evident that I needed to get my crap together and settle down at a job that paid me appropriately for the amount of work I do. My aunt is an angel. She paid for me to go to Queens College. The more I learned about librarianship, the more I loved it.

3. Can you briefly describe what a work day might be like for you?
I work in our Central location, in the Youth Wing. I'm just getting used to how busy it is, as I only just started here in the summer. Every single day here is different, which is what I like about it. Some mornings I might have Toddler Time, which is my favorite class to teach. We do two back to back classes here, which is a little intense. The classes are totally full to the brim and are absolutely exhausting. They're super fun to teach, though, so it's worth it. Other days I might have a class visit. We seem to have those pretty non-stop here. I help with ordering kids' and Young Adult books. I really like making book displays and pathfinders. Readers' Advisory is probably my favorite part of working at the Reference Desk. I love when patrons come back and tell me that they loved a book I suggested. It's the best feeling.

4. What do you find to be a challenge for librarians, in the very busy, information accessible world we live in?
For me, there's just such a plethora of information that my tiny spazzy brain gets overwhelmed and has no idea where to start or what to focus on. Should I keep reading the entire Blue Bloods series by Melissa De La Cruz because I really like it, or should I branch out and diversify my reader's advisory base and read some Sci-Fi, which I don't really like and therefore don't really read? Why don't I know more about gaming? Maybe I should learn more about Lexile levels! Maybe I should start a zine library! I really wish I had read more classics. How come I haven't read and learned about every single thing EVER? Sometimes you just have to accept that a) you're never going to get to everything you want to b) you need to find a balance between the things you want to learn about and the things you should learn about and c) your to-read pile is going to collapse on your head and no one's going to know that you're dead under a heap of books until your neighbors smell something funky (that being dead librarian).

5. Do you have any words of advice for librarians interested in starting a blog?
I think I have essentially the same advice that everyone else has: write about what you want to. Don't try and make your blog like someone else's. I originally wanted to write an all-library all-the-time blog and it made me bored as hell. I dreaded writing for it. Then I decided to revamp the whole thing, also bringing in playlists and outfits and fashion and whatever else I was into. I ended up wanting to write more and getting more hits and comments. No one is going to want to read something that you, yourself, aren't
interested in.

I also think it's important to reach out to other bloggers on Twitter and in their comments section. Your blog shouldn't exist in a vacuum. I find it important to reference other bloggers and articles. I don't tweet as much as I should, but I really like the little community of librarians I have on Twitter. If you're reading a blog, comment on it. Share the links. If you like a blog or a post, let the writer know. It really does make their day.

6. I love that you are always challenging librarian stereotypes on your blog. What is one stereotype of librarians you'd like to blast to smithereens?
You know, I don't challenge librarian stereotypes on purpose. I've always been kind of a weird egg and I got much happier in life once I decided I'd rather be who I was rather than constantly trying to fit in. I've been the weird nanny, the weird daycare worker, and now I'm the weird librarian. I think patrons appreciate the fact that I'm sincere. Except for when they don't. By just being myself, I hope I'm being a good role model for all the weirdo kids out there, letting them know that all the square pegs can find their places in the world too.

Should I care more about librarian stereotypes? I think if we're all passionate about our jobs and are true to ourselves and our visions for what a library and a librarian should be, stereotypes shouldn't be a problem. If people are hung up on that shushing, hair in a tight bun, Donna Reed in the It's Wonderful Life's alternate universe-librarian trope, that's fine by me. I bet Donna Reed got stuff done. In fact, I'm kind of sick of the whole notion that "edgy" librarians are somehow better or more innovative than those who put forth a more conservative image. I'm tired of us patting everyone on the back for being young/hip/hipster/partying librarians. So what? I work with so many cardigan-wearing, sensible-shoes-having librarians who are the smartest, most innovative librarians I've ever met.

7. If you had unlimited funding, what would be a dream program for your library?
I want to do storytime for kittens. They're really an underserved portion of the population.

8. What are you currently reading?
I just finished Rookie Magazine's Yearbook One and it's incredible. Rookie Mag is an online magazine for teens. It has a lot of the teen magazine basics, but without the how to lose weight, get a boyfriend, and conform crap that you find in Seventeen and other mags. All I have to do is have the book at the reference desk with me, and everyone wants to read it: teens, adults, boys and girls. It's that visually appealing.

I also picked up some vintage teen magazines as of late, including Sassy and some magazines from the 1960s. I just started two Alice's in Wonderland retellings: Splintered by A.G. Howard and a comic called Return to Wonderland.

I tend to read several things at the same time. I have a really strange attention span.

9. Since Banned Books Week was recently celebrated, have you had to face any challenges to material in your career?
Not really, thank goodness. I think it would make me livid. I'm a little spoiled in New York, we're pretty liberal here so we don't face the same kind of censorship problems that I see in other parts of the country. We don't get out and out challenges, it's more insidious. Sometimes people find books with words or pictures crossed out, but luckily I've never caught anyone in the act. I can't imagine what my reaction would be.


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