Friday, May 24, 2013

Dynamic connections

Artwork by John LeMasney,

This blog post is part of a blogging series "Show me the Awesome -  30 days of self promotion" organised by Sophie BrookoverKelly Jensen & Elizabeth Burns
If you would like to see the other posts of awesomeness visit the link  

The main job I do is not about books, or research or inquiry. The job I do is about people, it is about helping people. It is about making a connection with people so they trust me enough to enable me to help them. My job is to make sure I am interrupted all day by people who need my skills, my expertise, my problem solving, my suggestions, my conversation, my smile and sometimes my hugs.

"Do you have a minute?" 
"Yes, I have a minute for you, or, "I have about 5 minutes before I need to go to class, how can I help you right now, and then can I help you later?" 

"Are you busy?" 
"Yes, but I can make time for you, how can I help you?"

"I have a really dumb question...."
"No question is dumb, how can I help you?"

These were all conversations started in the past few days. 

I am continually connecting with people, via email, via the phone, face to face, all day. Connections are what makes me come to work each day, and allow me to enjoy my work. 

Here are some of the connections I have made over the past few days ...

  • Someone was looking for photographs from old National Geographics and I managed to help them within 3 minutes from a stack that was due to be disposed.
  • A student was looking at the noticeboard for our ebook launch - a quick chat with them about how to access it & what to look for led to him setting up an account.
  • I collaborated in person with students on a Summer Reading Project. Then set up the systems ready to launch, and emailed the staff the plan and requested for their contributions.
  • Had a discussion with a colleague about connections in the curriculum through literature, research and inquiry.
  • While fixing the photocopier I had a chat with a teacher about an author they had met and seen while in the audience for an on Oprah show about a book that had been recommended for the Summer Reading project that I was keen to read.
  • In passing a student I  had a quick chat to about her health as she had been off sick for a few weeks.
  • I spoke to a student about some lost money that had been found near the library, that I had posted about in the daily bulletin that they had come in to claim.
  • In the staffroom I was involved in discussions over the latest global current affairs and general family news with various staff members.
  • While at my desk a staff member came in to vent to me about a problem they were having, let it all out then left as fast as they appeared.
  • A parent contacted me through the class teacher about a book they felt was inappropriate, this led to a discussion with the classroom teacher and another teacher about the issue and will lead to a discussion with the parent.
  • I talked to the multiple library volunteers to remind them about registering their hours of service so they could earn credits.
  • In passing in the corridor I had a quick conversation about a upcoming unit of work with the teacher involved.
  • In a staff meeting I contributed to the discussion on homework.
  • I trained a member of staff to work a new piece of software and we chatted while doing so.
  • A year 3 boy was looking for a book that 'was orange, had the word pirate in it and was funny", the search beat me, but having been shown the tools required, he managed to find it himself and I praised him so much for his resilience and tenacity.
Over the years I have been asked to help identify a bullet found on a trail walk, where to take someone on their first date, how to cut paper straight, where to buy a shower head and bathroom accessories, to find specific articles plus many more queries I can't remember now, but all very important at the time. Everyones question and conversation is important to me.

I am mostly what Malcolm Gladwell in the The Tipping Point (Little Brown, 2000) would term a maven. Mavens are "a trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others", but I can only do this through making connections with people and developing relationships.

My main job is about people and how I connect with them. If that happens to be about books, research or inquiry as well while at work, then that my readers, is a bonus.

PS. John Royce has added a comment which indicates that 75% of librarians time is used by communicating. See the comments for the reference.


John Royce said...

Nothing surprising here, Dianne - school librarianship IS a people job.

You sent me scurrying to my dissertation for this statement:
"Herrin's study of five school librarians, repeatedly nominated as role models by fellow librarians and others, recorded the librarians' communications activities. She found that four of the five spent more than 75% of their time communicating; the five librarians averaged 186 interactions per hour."

Well done, Maven.


Barbara Herrin, Louis R. Pointon and Sara Russell, "Personality and communications behaviors of model school library media specialists," in Measures of excellence for school library media centers, ed. David V. Loertscher (Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 1988), p.80.

Dianne said...

Thanks for your comment John - "75% of the time communicating" - that sounds about right, it is such an integral part of what we do.

Thanks for contributing to "30 days of Awesome".

Susan Stephenson said...

I am ever impressed by the patience, passion and perseverance of the TLs I meet. The fact that they are still able to say, after the 186 transactions in the hour before mine, "I can make time for you, how can I help?" is so inspirational. I believe Teacher Librarians are the glue that holds a school together!

Dianne said...

Yes Susan, it is a wonder and we sometimes wonder where the patience comes from ....

but if we were cranky & impatient and narky, then no one would need or want to work with us and we would be out of a job - it is all about self preservation really

Thanks for reading and contributing to 30 days of Awesome!