A mix of titles currently on my shelves.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wasting My Talents?

As well as being a writer, I am a librarian. Last week school started around here, always a frenetic time for school librarians. But off and on, when I’ve had a moment to think, I’ve been considering something a neighbor recently said.

We were chatting at our local Farmers Market. When I mentioned that I was preparing to go back to work, she said, “You’re wasting your talents.”

The librarian side of my brain did a jaw-drop. The writer side did, too.

I’ve always had this professional split-personality situation. Even when I’m writing, part of me thinks like a librarian. When I’m working as a librarian, I’m also thinking – and using my abilities -- as a writer.

I consider both professions to be honorable and high callings with plenty of room for overlap. In my work as a school librarian, I get to read new books as well as classics in a variety of genres and formats. I also get to hear unvarnished reactions to these books, straight from the mouths of their young readers. Together we read stories, write stories, tell stories, share poetry, and seek out interesting (and reliable) information.

Am I wasting my talents? Come on in to my library when the kids are there. Observe them absorbed in a story we’re reading aloud. Witness their excitement at finding a new book by an author they love or about a subject they can’t get enough of. Listen to students insist that their friends Look at this! Watch them drag a buddy by the shirtsleeve to recommend a great book they’ve discovered. (Occasionally it’s even one of mine.)

These moments don’t just happen. I facilitate the serendipity by choosing good books, promoting them, and matching them with my students’ interests. I don’t make kids read; I make them want to read. (Okay, I do make them learn the Dewey Decimal System.)
Raven, Little Red, and Pinocchio enjoy
 a good book.

In my book (any of them), sharing my love for reading, literature, and learning is never a waste of my time and talents. It’s a joy.


  1. Hi Ann,
    I wish that I could tell the person who told you that you were wasting your talents about Peter. How he was such a non reader in a family of voracious readers. How you, the librarian, took the time to talk to him about what he was interested in, and then found a book about baseball that fit that interest. Remember all the 'Goosebumps' books that he read over the years? Again books that you as the librarian introduced him to and kept him well stocked with new titles. If not for librarians like you willing to work with kids, who would read the books that writers like you wrote? You are not wasting your talents....I think you are using them to their best advantage. And certainly to the advantage of the kids who are lucky enough to have you working in their school!
    By the way....I love this blog.

  2. Awwww, thanks...what you describe is exactly why I love being a librarian, as well as a writer. (And why I worry about the long-term effects of library closures and cutbacks across the country.)

    I enjoy the process of writing, and of seeing my work in print, but writing is very solitary and such a difficult business that it can be discouraging. There's nothing like a little reader enthusiasm to convince me that it's all worthwhile. I get plenty of that in the library.

    I'm so excited that you're enjoying the blog! I am too, which kind of surprises me.