A Job With Many Hats

When working in youth services, you have to wear many hats. I especially feel like this is true when you are working with tweens. Tweens are on such a wide spectrum with their interests and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming.
In general , I feel like this vast interests may come from different levels of maturity.
They  can be interested in anything from Pok√©mon to Game of Thrones. I have been struggling with this. Which led me to question:
How can you confidently deal with this wide range of interests and wear different library hats with a smile?



As I have pondered this question, I think I have finally come up with an answer!
1.   Do programs for a different age that you are not used to.

 If you have followed my blog in the past, you know how I feel about collaboration. If you work with different ages, you will start to feel comfortable with the many hats you have to wear in the library.
I am so grateful to work with such a wonderful library team.
I was able to cover a program for Ms. V. this past week.
I didn’t think much of it. I enjoy working with the teens, but it really taught me a lot.
For this program that I covered for her in particular, there were a lot of young teens (12-14 years old) that came.  Since I was covering for Ms. V, I didn't come up with my own activities. I just followed what she had out.
Unfortunately, more kids came then we expected. They didn't like the activities we had. Which ended up being both good and bad.  What we ended up doing instead was just talking and doing a few crafts.  As I got to talking with them, they told me about their daily middle school struggles. 
My favorite quote of the night came from a 7th grade boy. A girl tried to hug him, and he looks over at me and goes, “See, this is what I have to deal with! Seventh graders!” 
Being that he was in seventh grade, this made me laugh & it really summed up this awkward time for kids for me.  Which made me learn several things.
A.      When working with tweens, it is important to spend time with teens.

The time I spent talking to these teens during this program were priceless. They were so much fun, and they taught me a lot about the trends going on.
As a general rule,  I have found that tweens want to be older and do what teens are doing. It is a good idea to be aware of these teen trends and popular books, because your  tweens will be.
After this program, I started to talk to tweens that came up to the reference desk. I found that they liked the things that I had discussed with the teens. I feel like this makes me more aware of what is going on with them and hopefully made me a better tween librarian.  Seeing this trend I also realized:

B.      Even being in the same grade, same class, and same age doesn't guarantee that they will like the same things or be on the maturity level.
I know this sounds very simplistic, but I found that I am really guilty of generalizing what kids will like based off of a certain age. For example, since I mainly work with tweens, I mainly read middle grade novels. Why? Because that is what my tweens generally read.
But what about the tweens who read on higher reading levels? Or the tween who enjoys nonfiction or picture books?
If I only read middle grade novels, I wouldn't be able to serve them as well.
This was validation for me that I need to expand what I am reading.
I know  for sure that I need to make an extra effort to do more teen programs. My goal is to try and do one every season, but I don’t think I could ever be able to read everything that teens and tweens are interested in.

This in turn, made me feel really overwhelmed. How can you know everything?  I got home and reflected on this, and realized how silly I was being. I didn't need to know everything or watch all of the shows the kids suggested. I have a team to help me!

2.   Use your coworkers as a resource


If you just work alone, you will become very frustrated very quickly. 
It is okay not to know everything. You don’t need to be a fan of every fandom the kids are. Chances are someone that you work with likes that fandom. No worries! 
I need to use my coworkers as a resource. We all read different things, and have different interests. I need to be aware of what my coworkers specialties are in and use them as a resource to better serve patrons.
For example, I majored in history in college. (My emphasis is in WWII)
I also got a minor in Library Science ,and I love to do research. If you give me a question, I will search until I find the answer.
I am one of those weird librarians who loves those, “I am looking for a book, but I can’t remember anything about it” questions.
I would love to get more of these questions, and I am sure that some of my coworkers may toss questions like these at me happily.
To me this really shows that  I need to make a reference sheet of what my coworkers specialties and interests are. That way it is a resource for help with reference questions & with programming.

Conclusion



 In my pursuit to join the library field, I am learning so much. I am finding that we all wear different hats, but we all specialize in something different. It is important to have collaboration, interaction with your tweens and teens, and to be open to trying new things. As this summer goes on, I am going to try to dabble in helping with different ages. I think that if you box yourself into a certain age range, you will miss out on so much. 

Maybe by the end of the summer I will earn my super cape! How is your summer reading going?

-Pamela

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