I've never been a big fan of having my photo taken. Despite the fact that my online persona wears a cape while banging the library drum with all her might, I’m really something of an introvert. No really. No. Really.
Once, many years ago, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Maya Angelo (yes, that Maya Angelo). It was a lovely gift to me from the parent of a student I taught. Five people, gathered around the table, having an amazing conversation, and me – quietly listening, but never joining in. Before she left, Maya (I’ve never seen her since, by the way, but in my mind we’re on a first name basis) said to me “you’ve got things to say, teacher. Let the world hear your voice.” I wish I could say that, inspired by the poet laureate and one of my personal heroes, I immerged from the cocoon of my shyness that very moment. But, alas, no.
Being “outgoing” is work for me. But I keep chipping away at my inner introvert because, frankly, my profession demands it. School libraries/librarians are a vital part of the educational village that it takes to raise a child and, yet, we are sorely lacking in advocates. Our students deserve access to all that a vibrant, thriving library program has to offer, and yet we’re often missing from the list of services that need to be protected come budget chopping time. These days, librarians can’t afford to be introverts. If we don’t stand up for our students and the roles we play in their lives, no one else will.
So, I’ve learned to swallow my fear and turn it into fuel. To think of myself as an extrovert, even though everything inside me says otherwise. Which brings me back to having my photo taken. Seriously, I’m not a fan. I mean, if this was your high school yearbook photo, you’d probably prefer to stay behind the camera too.
Which is why, although I’ve been aware of Bobbi Newman and Erin Downey Howerton’s project, This Is What A Librarian Looks Like, for awhile now, I’ve been quietly pretending to be clueless. Don't get me wrong, I love the ethos of the project: a challenge to the stereotypes most people still hold of those of us who work in the stacks, I just didn't want MY picture there. But then, some people I greatly admire started throwing down the gauntlet. First, there was my super pal Gwyneth Jones, followed by my neighbor to the south, Tamara Cox. THEN, when my library brother from another mother, Matthew Winner, joined in, I knew I had to (once again) overcome my shyness and play along.
All of that said, this year, for a camera shy person, I’ve had my photo taken a lot:
First, Here’s me geeking out with my teacher hero Ron Clark. (An aside: someday, I *will* make it to the Ron Clark Academy, and if you'd like to sponsor that dream, I can totally be bought). :)
Here’s me geeking out at the I Love My Librarian Award ceremony - which, to date, is still the most magical evening of my career.
And here’s me geeking out as a Mover and Shaker. Someday my print copy of this issue will actually arrive. #stillwaiting Hmmft.
In the end, however, I chose this picture from my library’s Mockingjay book release costume party to submit to the What A Librarian Looks Like website.
I know this isn't the best quality of the bunch, but this night was just so much fun. Plus, how often do you get to sport a pink beehive, blinking tiara and pink metallic eyelashes?? Of all the photos I’ve had taken recently, this is my favorite because it’s all about how libraries are about so much more than books. Even when we’re geeking out (and yes, I realize I’ve used that phrase four times), over a book, libraries are about literacy, learning and life. And if I don’t don my beehive to shout that from the rooftops, who will? Exactly.
Turns out Maya was right, I do have something to say. And although it might be hard for me to put myself out there to say it, my students are totally worth it. (And I bet yours are too!)