Building Connections Is A Librarian’s Superpower
Building connections is a skill that some can struggle with. But not librarians. Guest writer, Melissa Silerio shares her story, and why she says that a librarian’s superpower is making connections with people.
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When I first entered the field of librarianship, I don’t think I was aware of the underrated superpower I was about to hold and eventually unleash. As a profession, librarians are often stereotyped into cardigan-wearing, Werther’s Original popping, shushing book caretakers. We in the profession know that is farthest from the truth. Librarians have proved to be at the forefront of informational media literacy education, dynamic collection builders, defenders of the freedom to read and advocates for our students and library spaces. Of all these stereotype busting abilities, the one I believe to be the most powerful is the ability to build connections. As a librarian, I have learned that my ability to connect information to students, teachers, and other library professionals has proved to be the most influential skill of all.
Superpower in action
Building connections with students and teachers is such a big part of my job that oftentimes I am not always conscious that I am doing it. I think of the time when a student came into the library with his class and proceeded to tell me that the last time, he read a book was in elementary school. He said he didn’t like to read and there was no way I could find a book he would like. My superpower kicked in and I introduced him to our graphic novel collection. We spoke about what kind of stories he would be interested in reading, and I proceeded to hand him a few titles. He looked at me suspiciously but checked them out anyway.
When I saw him again on the next class visit, he told me he loved the books and that he was ready to check out more. He said proudly, “You know I have checked out eight books so far this year, Mrs. Silerio? I’ve never read that much before!” That moment of connection with that student, and the fact I was able to connect him to books he wanted to read and ultimately enjoyed, was a superpower moment. Librarians have these connections building moments daily, and we often chalk it up to it being just part of our job. We don’t necessarily see it as a keen ability that is celebrated or even recognized. Nevertheless, it is a power we should all be aware of and wield willingly.
Furthermore, this effective skill also translates to connecting resources to teachers as well. As librarians we are a support for curriculum and teachers alike. There have been many times where I am asked to give an impromptu one-on-one Professional Development (PD) session to a teacher about how to use a technology tool or curate a list of resources for research. I have seen fellow colleagues share and connect teachers and staff to resources via PD sessions, in library newsletters and even on flyers in the staff restroom wittily named “Potty PD”.
Most times, I will build these information collections and share with my staff as a “add this to your toolbox” email. Librarians will always take the opportunity to connect teachers to our resources and tools that will support their content. From guiding teachers to a new educational technology tool to make their lessons more engaging or to make their job a little easier to curating resources, book lists, and lesson ideas proves that making connections is truly influential.
Connecting with colleagues
Librarians also build these powerful connections with each other. Being a new librarian, I often feel like an island on my campus. As a former English teacher, I was accustomed to working with a department of other teachers who shared my enthusiasm and stress of the classroom. This is perhaps the biggest hurdle I am learning to overcome while doing this work. However, when I discovered the community of librarians on social media, namely Twitter, my world and connections opened to a professional learning network of support, education, and opportunities I’ve never had before as an educator.
My Professional Learning Network (PLN), as I affectionately refer to them as, has connected me to parts of my profession that I normally wouldn’t know about. For example, through these connections I have become a member of several committees in my state library association, met with fellow librarians across my state and the country to discuss lessons and programming ideas, spoke on a podcast about librarianship, and even led to writing this blog post. These connections not only help to further my skill set but feel a part of a larger network of librarians beyond my school district. And let me tell you dear reader, Librarian Twitter is a powerful community of educators, not to be stereotyped or underestimated!
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