Sunday Reflections: Celebrating Six Years of TLT
I am a YA librarian. That is one of the core ways I define myself. I have spent 23 years working to be the best YA librarian that I can be. Yes, I have worked and love working with younger kids. Yes, I have worked and love working the Reference desk. But at my core, I am a YA librarian. If you asked me to define myself, it’s in the top five things I will say: Christian, mother, YA librarian. These are part of the things that make me me.
So in 2011, after the flood and after the job losses and after having to move, I worried about finding another YA librarian job. Full-time librarian jobs are hard to come by, YA ones even harder still. And thus Teen Librarian Toolbox was born. It was and is my attempt to be better at what I do and to stay connected to this field that I love and this important part of my identity. It has become a tool, a resource, a sounding board, and so much more.
Through TLT I have met amazing people, been challenged to expand what I think and how I serve, and developed a strong core group of fellow YA librarians/librarians who are not only professional peers, but personal friends. Heather, Amanda, Robin and Ally have helped me through deep personal times as well as having been a professional sounding board. I can not tell you the immense gift that these women are to me and my family. I value, respect and admire them, but more then that – I love them, they are my friends.
TLT is both my most meaningful professional and personal accomplishment. With your help and readership, I get to model to my daughters the joys and hard work of building something from scratch and watching it succeed. And make no mistake, they too have benefited from TLT. They have met authors, been blessed by my fellow librarians, and many of you have sent them your positive thoughts in our darkest of days.
As I reflect on this, the six year anniversary of TLT, I say thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for discussing. Thank you for challenging. Thank you for supporting. I am a better person, mother and YA librarian because you take this journey with me. Thank you for six amazing years. I hope you will continue to be on this journey with us in the years to come.
Heather Booth Reflects
My first post for TLT was about a live action Angry Birds program I hosted in 2012. I was reminded of this just today when a colleague replicating the event asked for some details. “I think we used beach towels to fling the balls,” I told her. “I know it’s on TLT though, just check the site, I’m pretty sure there’s a materials list.” So what does TLT mean to me? It’s a record of my work over the past several years, the other half of my brain, and a reminder of the amazing support, awareness-raising, and mutual admiration that our profession is capable of. I’m glad to have a small stake in TLT and immensely proud of the compendium of information and perspectives shared here by librarians, authors, teens, and more. The output – at least one high quality post six out of seven days a week – is astounding for an unpaid staff the size of our group, especially since that group includes a slacker poster like myself! Thank you, Karen, for creating and maintaining this space, even when it was hard.
Amanda MacGregor Reflects
Teen Librarian Toolbox has given me so much over the past three years (and the three years before that where I was a reader but not a contributor). A lot of those things are obvious. It has: given me a platform to talk about books and issues important to me; helped connect me with thousands of librarian/book/YA people on Twitter; connected me with publishers who make sure hundreds of books show up here each year for me to consider for review; and opened the door for me for other opportunities related to books and writing.
But TLT means so much more than just a place to write about YA books and advocacy for teens. I am grateful to have learned so much from being a part of TLT. Whether from my fellow TLTers, from guest posts, from the conversations surrounding books and posts, or from our various yearly projects, I have taken away new information, new ideas, and new ways of thinking about things. TLT isn’t just some blog I write for—it’s a community. The past 3 years have been filled with emails, texts, phone calls, and more with TLTers that sometimes have things to do with the blog, but most often do not. This past fall, when I met up with Heather at NerdCon, my son was flabbergasted that we’d never met in person before. When I told him I’ve actually never met anyone from TLT in person before, he was absolutely astounded. “But they’re your friends!” he said. And yes, most of our interactions are in virtual spaces, but these people are my friends. I’m not quite sure why Karen plucked me out of Twitter to ask if I was interested in joining TLT, but I’m forever happy that she did. I love TLT for the community, the learning, the support, and the many ways it challenges me to think harder and do better. Thankful for my fellow bloggers here at TLT, the legions of people who volunteer to guest post, and everyone who reads, shares, and talks with us about our posts.
Robin Willis Reflects
Being a part of Teen Librarian Toolbox has been a true blessing in my life for a number of reasons. When I started contributing, I was struggling to enjoy a job where the moments I got to be a librarian (rather than tech support) were growing fewer and fewer. TLT helped me be more reflective and change my practice to serve the students at my school with more creativity and enthusiasm. It has helped open doors for me to join in the larger YA librarianship community and given me perspective on my life and work. Even though I now mostly work with the 5 and under set at a public library (finding a full time YA position is nearly impossible) I still feel connected to my work with teens through TLT. More than all of that, though, I enjoy working with a fabulous group of librarians who are always available to support me both professionally and personally, and who feel free to call on me for the same support.
We always love hearing from you, so if you would like to tell us what you like about TLT, what you would like to see more of, etc., please leave us a comment.
Filed under: Sunday Reflections
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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