The Reason I'm A Librarian?

Each year, our library system gives out four awards to our branches – one for Service, one for Programming, one for Branch Development and one for Branch of the Year which incorporates elements of all three plus more.  Right now, I'm working through nearly 200 quarterly reports (48 branches x 4 reports per year) to come up with a shortlist for this year's nominees. 

As part of the process, I did a tabulation of which branches have won awards since 1992.  I knew my hometown of Indian Head had done okay, being one of only two branches in the whole system, to have won Branch of the Year twice.  What I hadn't realised was how well Indian Head had done across all categories.  Since 1992, we've they've won 6 awards. 

The next branches that come close are our two city branches, Estevan and Weyburn, which have won four awards each (and it's apparently a perennial argument around here whether city branches serving thousands of people should even compete with small towns serving hundreds or villages that literally serve dozens.)  If you take away the two city branches, the next closest communities have won three awards over the same span. 

We haven't decided what to do about Indian Head this year – I've got a pretty big conflict of interest being from there so think I might get a colleague to look over their reports to see if they should be on the shortlist for any of the awards this time around.  (But frankly, they can afford to wait for a year.  Give everybody else a chance to catch up! )

As I said, the awards only go back to 1992 and by that time, I was off at University.  I haven't lived in Indian Head since (though my parents still do.)  Even without the awards to “prove” it, I think Indian Head has always had a strong library with great boards and staff – even as I personally tend to think of Indian Head as more of a sports town in general.  (On the prairies, my theory is that every small town basically falls into one of two categories – you're either a sports town or an arts & culture town.) 

I talked about it in my Statement of Intent to get into FIMS.  Although I laid it on pretty thick (as I tend to do), I honestly think you can draw a pretty straight line from my formative experiences in that small town library to where I am today (er, supervising that small town library while trying not to let my biases show!

Comments 4

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    I think that the quality of your library program probably had a lot to do with your decision to become a librarian.
    I was constantly at the library with my parents as a child, but it wasn't until I went to library school that I found out the Hamilton Public Library, is known for having one of the best children's programming reputations in Ontario.
    As a kid, you just think, “I like the library” and you don't notice the quality of the facilities or the staff, but I think that those experiences absolutely contributed to my career choice.
    Good luck with the awards process!

    Posted 27 Mar 2008 at 3:08 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    I'm not sure if this is true or not but I remember hearing in library school that HPL pays their children's librarians *more* than their regular librarians, not less as is often the case in many libraries. That really struck me.

    Posted 29 Mar 2008 at 4:32 am
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    It's true. Whereas most public library systems see children's librarian positions as entry-level (and far too many applicants see them that way as well, accepting positions as CL's as a way INTO a system, and biding their time until “something better comes along”), the opposite is true in Hamilton. People take other librarian positions as a way in, to gain experience and pay their dues, until a children's librarian position opens up and they can apply. A lot of experience is required to get hired in children's at HPL.
    And the salary range is commensurate with the value they place on youth services.
    *sigh* When will the rest of Canada catch up?

    Posted 29 Mar 2008 at 5:28 am
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    Did we hear this factoid in KitLit? Glad to have someone confirm my memory anyhow.
    I'm not sure that I think children's librarians should get paid more but I definitely think they should get a similar wage to what other librarians with similar experience levels get.
    I think someone told me once that the reason children's librarians often get less is that they're not seen as having managerial roles like most other entry-level librarian positions.
    If that's true, I like the solution that my current workplace came up with for a similar dilemma. Technically, the branch supervisor is higher on the pay scale/organizational chart than the two city librarians because I have to deal with 46 local library boards, oversee 46 widespread rural branches and do everything else the city librarians do in only one (albeit much larger) branch.
    So what my boss does is assign regional duties that bring the city librarians up in responsibility and workload to something comparable to the branch manager – things like doing Aboriginal outreach, overseeing a unique branch (we have one school-public library project overseen by our Estevan librarian), doing special research projects, managing other special partnerships and initiatives.
    Works great!

    Posted 30 Mar 2008 at 1:31 am
%d bloggers like this: