Every once in awhile, I get in a philosophical mood and start asking myself questions about this profession of young adult librarianship.’  Most recently, I asked myself why I am in this profession. This question has been on my mind for six months now.

I remember back in my library school days, the professor asked us if there was truly such a thing as an unselfish act.’  She wanted to know why we were going to be librarians.’  A lot of folks said they wanted to help people.’  Well, why do you want to help people?’  Does it make you feel good?’  If so, is it an unselfish act?’  And so on.

The conversation in my head was similar.’  I’ve had a bummer of a year.’  It started out well enough.’ ‘  January through May I had a consistent, decent attendance at events.’  455 patrons attended my Wizard Rock concert this past summer.’  I had a good crowd at my annual murder mystery program.’  Then, after summer ended, I was talking to the dust bunnies.’  I held two movie nights with an average attendance of 1.’  My vampire party drew a whopping 5 attendees, 4 of which came because their friend made them.’  I was in a slump.

When attendance gets low, when the teens don’t seem to be a-knockin’, what keeps you motivated?’  Am I in this because I truly want to help teens, or is it all about the thrill of getting people to come to my programs?’  Do I like working with teens because of how I feel when a program is successful?’  Because I think I provide a service that truly benefits them?’  Is my work an unselfish act?’  If my motivation is what I get out of it, what will keep me going during the times when the numbers drop?

Since the winter, my numbers have gone back up.’  I am trying different programs that are somewhat out of my comfort zone.’  This is part of my New Year’s Resolutions I wrote about in this post.’  So far, they seem to be working.’  But I’m not sure feeling good about a program is the best motivation for being a successful young adult librarian.

One thing I am focusing on more than I have in the past is serving the teens who are just looking for books.’  This has taken some of my focus from program numbers to feeling successful because of a great reader’s advisory interview.

What’s your motivation?

About Lindsey Dunn

I am a teen librarian who has worked in the Wake County Library system for six years now. I have been in YALSA for 3 years now and currently serve on the YA Galley Committee. I received my MLS at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2001. My specialties include book clubs, teen advisory boards, programming, and blogging.

One Thought on “What’s Your Motivation?

  1. My motivation: I love working with teens. They make me laugh, they inspire me, they challenge me, they break my heart, they make me proud. Yes, it’s a good feeling when I get a full house for a gaming event, but it also feels great when one of my students comes back to the library raving about a book, or gets a paper printed out moments before it’s due, or shows me a great manga site.

    For me, the motivation comes from one-on-one relationships, not big numbers for events. Whenever I see the lightbulb go on for a teen who’s just found the perfect angle for a research paper, or even just the right way to photocopy a score–that, to me, is success.

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