GSLIS Assistant Professor Carol Tilley recently launched a new blog featuring interviews with youth services librarians. The blog, “For the Future: What Today's Youth Services Librarians Want the Next Generation to Know,” was born out of Tilley’s desire to provide her students with more access to practicing librarians and to give librarians an opportunity to share their expertise.
“I wanted it to have a reach beyond class, where students here and elsewhere could look for inspiration or a sense of reassurance that this career is what they think it is,” she said. “I also wanted to encourage practitioners to be reflective of their practices and think about what they have to say to those people who would one day be taking their places.”
Tilley also hopes the blog will act as a way to preserve and make visible the voices and stories of youth services librarians. “I think about all of the people in these positions who have something valuable to say, and I don’t want them or their ideas to disappear,” she said. “There are stories everywhere, and there are important ideas and valuable insights, but we have to look, and we have to ask, and we have to listen.”
Tilley’s goal is to post one new interview each week and feature librarians from a variety of geographic locations. Participants are asked to share information about their professional lives and everyday practice, offer advice, and answer “for fun” questions about themselves. Through these interviews, Tilley hopes the audience will realize the variation involved in practicing youth librarianship.
“I hope that people who read the blog begin to understand how important local context is—where you are, the library you work in, and the kids you work with really have an impact on the kinds of things you do and want to do. I think in looking at the blog you’ll realize there is no single way of doing things,” Tilley explained.
The response has been extremely positive. “The people who have answered the questions so far seem genuinely excited to be asked,” she said. “And the people I’ve heard from who have been following along are excited that people are paying attention to a topic they care about.”
When communicating the impact and importance of librarians in any context, Tilley believes—and hopes the blog conveys—that there are tremendous benefits in sharing stories.
“I understand that stories matter more and more everyday. In documenting our work, you have to have numbers, and they’re important, but they’re not the whole story. You need the anecdotes, the voices of real people,” Tilley said.