I am continually astounded by folks who have interesting blogs, smart and thoughtful things to share, and a wealth of ideas and enthusiasm. One librarian for whom I have tremendous respect (and whose blog I read regularly) is Elizabeth Bird of New York Public Library. Although she is technically a children’s librarian (and I spend my time banging my head against a wall trying to get through to teenagers), I am always learning something new by reading her posts and am inspired by her seemingly ceaseless supply of energy. Not only does Elizabeth Bird hold down a job as a children’s librarian at a super fabulous branch of a very well-respected library system, but she has also served on the Newbery Committee, has written for Horn Book, posts what seems like every day to her blog at the School Library Journal website, and is getting ready to have a picture book published in the coming year. Oh yeah, and she gets to live in New York. I’m not exactly sure where she lives, but she recently posted that she could hear the New York marathon “ending, virtually, just outside my door.” <sigh>
I know we can’t all be Elizabeth Bird. If that were possible, there would be so many more of her. I, for one, would really like to bottle a little bit of what seems like her never-ending supply of energy. Considering that this is plainly impossible, I just wonder if there are some realistic strategies for replenishing our energy when the day-to-day gets so exhausting and repetitive. What are the tips and tricks of staying inspired, of continually staying energized, of trying new things, of preventing burn-out?
I’ve been trying to plan after school programs for the next few months and, with each passing month, I wonder what is something new and exciting I could incorporate? I look at the schedules of other libraries and think to myself “we’re already hosting a program like that” or “we don’t really have an outdoor space to do that one” or “I wonder how they get kiddos to come participate in that.” Even when I ask our Teen Advisory Board members what they’d like to see on the schedule, they will often times recommend programs we already offer (but, for some reason, they don’t attend) or give me ideas that are way outside the range of plausibility (“We should set up a paintball range in the reference section”…yeah, right; that’ll fly). Being a librarian definitely calls for creativity and taking some amount of risk, especially if you have a focus on providing community programming. If the participants still enjoy the program, does it matter if it is an old standard? Does our frustration with the same-old, same-old shine through and influence the experience of participants? It has to, surely. So when you’re busting out the trusty Wii, popping the popcorn, putting together a cart of craft supplies, or mixing up a gallon of lemonade for what seems like the four-thousandth time, how do you keep the wide-eyed excitement that came with making all this happen for the first time? I don’t really have an answer to this conundrum. Partially it seems to come down to attitude. If I’m having a bad day or am already stressed, facing the same program for the millionth time is going to elicit a different response than if I’m having the absolute best day. So putting myself in a “this is going to be the best program ever” frame-of-mind each time I get ready for an event could certainly help me with my personal fulfillment and help make the program more enjoyable for those attending. But beyond that, how do we continually deliver great programs that elicit excitement from our kiddos, while at the same time stretch us creatively and professionally?
I suppose it comes down to continually searching, continually trying, and continually reinventing ourselves.