Friday, October 12, 2012

What is Our Mission as Youth Services Librarians?

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R. David Lankes is a passionate librarian who cares about what we do and why we do it as librarians. He views us as guardians of knowledge, the builders of community, and the destroyers of ignorance. This is a tall charge, but we must take it on to the best of our abilities, especially if we are working with children and young adults. Our communities are our patrons and serving them needs to be our priority. We must be dynamic and willing to challenge others and ourselves in promoting this mission.

This mission encompasses many facets, and according to Lanke in "What We Do and Why We Do It…", it starts with "improving society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities". What branches out from this would be service that promotes education, reference, access to materials, and youth centered programming like Storytime or Teen Read. See his document here.

YALSA, although very different in approach to Lanke, has its "Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth: Young Adults Deserve the Best"
Area I. Leadership and Professionalism
Area II. Knowledge of Client Group.
Area III. Communication, Marketing & Outreach
Area IV. Administration.
Area V: Knowledge of Materials
Area VI - Access to Information
Area VII. Services

What doesn't come through quite as well in YALSA's document is the need to EDUCATE the school community to address its literacy needs now and into the future. Although they do mention the word "instruct" in a number of the competencies, "educate" should, in my opinion, be very important in the role of a librarian working with youth. We are teachers, leaders, and professionals but we must educate our young patrons. In this list of competencies, "instruct" is listed under Services. If we consider the role that Youth Services librarians play in serving youth, maybe a reconfiguration of the areas could make Education an area, as well as make these a little more dynamic sounding like…

Area 1. Know Your Community
Area 2. Educate Your Patrons
Area 3. Create and Share Your Knowledge
Area 4. Know Your Resources
Area 5. Be a Knowledge Leader and Mean it!
Area 6. Protect Your Knowledge
Area 7. Plan for the Future

I won't go into the reasoning behind these (I'm still thinking about them), but I must say that I felt these competencies needed to be spruced up a bit. What I can say is that there is a closer connection among these competencies and that they aren't completely discreet areas. Also, by making these sound more dynamic rather than static, perhaps we can better engage our communities and make our libraries indispensable in their "knowledge" development. 


  1. I agree that the competencies are pretty wordy. I also love your rehash of them. Yours are more calls to action rather than just passive statements.

  2. Yes!I am reminded of our readings for this week: Riedling said,
    "School library media specialists must help students learn how to learn, to become lifelong learners".