Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Just call us the X-Men!

Like a lot of school libraries, we have had retirements over the past three years. Three years ago when a part time an assistant librarian retired I realized we had an opportunity.

Instead of looking for someone who would cover the circulation desk during lunch, shelve and sign passes, we looked at what our program needed. We were upgrading technology and media production and I knew I couldn't handle it on my own. A call to our local cable access station led me to an amazing person. Jane-Sarah MacFarlane is a video production specialist who has produced award winning independent films. She handles our technology, provides upper level support to students in video editing, and has also produced videos for our school. Her most recent program won a local award, and focused on our sister school relationship with a school in Turkmenistan. (Awesome video embedded below.) She traveled there with a delegation of our teachers last spring and her coverage placed her at the heart of a diplomatic exchange, and the promotion of our school. Oh, she covers the circulation desk, shelves, and signs passes, too.

On the last day of school last year another of our assistant librarians announced she would be retiring. As sad as I was to say goodbye to a valued partner, this was another opportunity. In an instance of pure serendipity I got a call from one of our local public library directors. They had just lost their Teen Services specialist and asked if I might  be interested in partnering in finding a candidate to cover both of our libraries. You betcha!

After a wonderful collaborative process and extensive interview process we hired Jennifer Barnes. Her title is "Teen Services Consultant - Reader's Advisory & Social Media", and she is amazing. Jenn launched our Facebook Fan page and is running the contest to get us to 500 fans. She ran a promotion for Teen Read Week getting teacher participation by asking for their favorite books, and then displaying them for students to check out - which they did! The new YA Galley Group is a program that already has a group of eager readers who are launching a review blog. Jenn is really busy splitting her time between two libraries, but the public/school crossover is invaluable, and her unique position brings a new and fresh perspective to our program. Her blog Baby I was Born to Read is terrific and touches upon her experience as a YA reviewer for SLJ, and about her reading and role as a member of  the ALA 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee.  Oh, she covers the circulation desk, shelves, and signs passes, too.

Our long-timer, LouAnn Franke, has a great relationship with our public library network, handles our robust inter-library loan program, has organized Wii gaming tournaments, runs all the holiday themed contests like guess the weight of the pumpkin, and trivia contests. Oh, she covers the circulation desk, shelves, and signs passes, too.

I was talking about our wonderful staff to an English teacher not too long ago and he said "Wow, it's like each of you has a super power. You guys are like the X-Men!" I didn't like that at all ;)

The age of the generalist has passed. Every library employee needs to be a specialist, to bring unique strengths, skills and passions to the table. This is the era of super-powers. This is a job for the X-Men!

Jane-Sarah's video:

Turkmenistan trip CCHS/Charlestown from Jane-Sarah MacFarlane on Vimeo.

Day 3 NaNoWriMo
(Not writing a novel. Using this as a prompt to blog daily for a month.)

Photo Credit:
Google Images
x-men v1

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