Being in a library science department and teaching online courses in literature for children, tweens, and teens means I do not often have the chance to interact with students. So, when the opportunity presents itself, I leap at the chance. My colleague Rosemary Chance arranged for the two of us to do a continuing education program for undergraduate teacher education students. “Let the Heart of a Book Touch the Heart of a Child” became our theme since we spoke to the groups on Valentine’s Day. Basically, we booktalk some of the Notables (ALSC) winners for the year. After the booktalk, students are invited to take a free book with them to begin or build their future libraries.
Aside from being a lot of fun (Rosemary and I love booktalking as a team), this program has provided some other benefits we did not anticipate going into it:
1. Other faculty attend and see part of what it is we DO in librarianship. They remark on how attentive the students are and how much even they loved the booktalking (they also took free books).
2. Students come to talk to us about working on an MLS when they graduate.
3. This year we had one faculty member ask if we had some more books we could spare (we did) and if she could bring her class over to “shop our shelves.” We had 7 book carts filled with books we had weeded from the books publishers send us for our committee work (Rosemary was on Notables and I was on Odyssey this past year). Students filled boxes and hauled them off for their classroom libraries (see photos below).
4. We have been asked to speak to other classes, undergrad and graduate about books and reading and libraries.
5. Community members come to the event and also take home free books. They also have the chance to see what it is that librarians can do.
So often people confuse us with the university library staff. They have no real idea of who we are and what we can offer students, faculty, and the larger community. By taking on this small program, we help spread the word about libraries, librarians, books, and reading. And while Rosemary and I think of booktalking as something we just DO, we realize that there are others who do not know this powerful tool for connecting readers and books. We are planting some seeds here, seeds we hope will result in more people knowing what it is librarians and libraries can offer them.
Artwork by John LeMasney, lemasney.com