At the Core of Librarianship

by Diane Foote, Hal Patnott, and Alena Rivers

Collaboration. Excellence. Inclusiveness. Innovation. Integrity and respect. Leadership. Responsiveness.

These are the core values of children’s librarianship, as articulated by our professional association, ALSC. These values offer all of us a framework for our philosophy, goals, and actions; particularly today, but really, every day. The children we serve deserve all of our efforts to collaborate with them, their families, and our communities; they deserve the very best in books and media. All children deserve to be included in the radical promise of universal access to information and education. Young people deserve our best new ideas. All children deserve to be treated with integrity and respect. Young people deserve our leadership in modeling and fostering all of these values, and young people need us to respond to their needs, and the needs of a changing society.

We can do all these things. It is easier and more effective to do all of these things if we do them together (collaboration). Here in the Butler Center, we feel we do these things naturally, organically, and in the course of our daily work. However, sometimes it becomes important to be more intentional and disciplined about beliefs we may take for granted, or assume are universally shared. Today and going forward (leadership), we are going to intentionally focus on these values through the lens of children’s literature. We encourage all of you to talk about these values with the children you serve, and we will make recommendations for books to use as discussion anchors. The beauty of children’s books is that the best of them are compellingly written and effectively illustrated (excellence); we’ll showcase ones here that exemplify these values without didacticism, with appeal to kids.

Our commitment to young people doesn’t stop as they grow up. The mission of young adult librarianship, as articulated by YALSA, keeps us focused: “Our mission is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives.”

Stay tuned in this space, and join us in moving forward with inclusiveness, integrity and respect. Young people deserve nothing less.

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