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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Youth Services Institute Reflections

Image from Pixabay

Many thanks to Jenna Gilles-Turner, who wrote this guest blog post.

I was one of the lucky few (Yes. Be jealous.) to attend the Youth Services Development Institute in Green Lake, WI in September. It was one of the most inspiring, motivating, and moving experiences I have been part of. Three days of intense inward-looking activities combined with many moments to connect, inspire others, share, and help one another. 

Not having a degree in the library field, I have always battled with what to call myself. While I often FEEL like a librarian, am I really one? Do I make others with a degree feel belittled when calling myself a librarian? How do i introduce myself? What if I never have time or money to finish my degree? Am I alone in this? Who can I talk to? Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? Dog gone it... Do people LIKE ME?!?

Yes. A thousand times yes. I am a librarian. I AM a librarian. 


Our battle cry in hand, we learned together and even wept together. We listened to experienced librarians and to one another. There were presentations, round tables, an evening fire, talks, questions, and gathering times. The presenters did an amazing job keeping us active, interested, and inspired. They made sure to accommodate various learning styles and made sure it wasn't all PowerPoints. 

All fears were not quelled, but I sure came out feeling better about myself, about my professional outcomes, and what I was doing in Fall Creek. I felt validated. I felt more certain. I felt AWESOME! I feel awesome!

It wasn't just about sharing program ideas. Or talking one's library up (...or down in some people's cases...). Or listing off social media advice. Or learning ways to better communicate with patrons, co-workers, bosses, community members, and boards. Or exchanging emails.

It was about us doing our best for us. Because when we do what we love and what motivates us, the library benefits. The community benefits. Early learners benefit. Teens. Adults. Our families. We all benefit. Making connections, helping others, ALLOWING OTHERS TO HELP US....It's not just about connecting books to kids. It's not just about teaching an adult how to use a computer. It's not just about weeding and circulation. It's about the community and how we can help improve it and how they can help us. Each seemingly little action is part of the whole movie of life. And I KNEW this. And other people do, too! And through our struggles we don't give up! We adapt, evolve, help one another, reach out. We learn when it *is* okay to give up or take a break. Get rid of sacred cows; ask for help; know when enough is enough; balancing work, life, family, personal goals, and friendships; working with community members and organizations to fill in gaps when so many people are in need or need a little help...which are always some things I've worked on. Hearing other's experiences sure helped!

My experiences are still sinking in. It is still often difficult to verbally communicate exactly how I felt and what happened during those few days. What felt like a lifetime also felt like minutes. I can't thank the other participants or the presenters enough. Due to a change of employment, it is taking even longer for information and emotions to sink in... How can I apply what I learned, felt, saw, and shared into my new location? What are my greatest assets now? What outcomes do I envision for myself at Chippewa Falls Public Library? For CFPL? How do I fit? Where do I fit in? Where do I go from here? What do I flush out? What do I work on first? 

...but I have not asked myself, "Am I a real Librarian?" Because I am. Darn right I am.


If you get a chance to apply for the next institute in 2017: do it. Don't doubt. Don't overthink. Do it. 

You won't be disappointed.

(Take some kleenex.)