I have been a librarian for the past fifteen years. My first experience was an internship working the reference desk at a small liberal arts college.
I worked for New York Public Library, mostly in Staten Island, from 1996-2000. That was an awesome experience, especially my stint with the Connecting and Libraries and Schools Project (CLASP), an outreach project to K-8 private and public schools.
I had a brief 9-month stint working for the Children’s Defense Fund. They have a beautiful, private, non-circulating little library designed by the architect Maya Lin on the former Alex Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee. The bulk of the holdings relate to the African American experience.
For the past 8 years I have worked as an elementary and middle school librarian. I was laid off from my last job because, as far as I can tell, I am not sufficiently submissive to authority. The school district did not have to give me a reason for not renewing my contract because I was not tenured, but it must have to do with my very loud protests at the director of technology blocking all (Yes, ALL) of Wikipedia because some sites have “inappropriate” content. Better to just block all the millions of sites of legitimate information than just block out the few appropriate links. I am no fan of Wikipedia, but I could not abide by such a blatant and incredibly asinine act of wholesale censorship. My other loud objection was to the director of instruction’s order to remove the Fruits Basket manga series from the library collection because he found them objectionable. He looked at them after one pair of parents of a 6th grade girl expressed concern about the content. I was deeply troubled by the fact that his directive was in complete contradiction to the policies and procedures adopted by the board of education. These protests branded me as “insubordinate” by the central office so here I am, a rogue librarian.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (3rd ed.), a rogue is define as follows:
- An unprincipled, deceitful, and unreliable person; a scoundrel or rascal.
- One who is playfully mischievous; a scamp.
- A wandering beggar; a vagrant.
- A vicious and solitary animal, especially an elephant that has separated itself from its herd.
- An organism, especially a plant, that shows an undesirable variation from the standard.
The World Book Dictionary (1979 ed.) defines a rogue as:
- a tricky, dishonest, or worthless person; rascal.
- mischievous person.
- an animal with a savage nature that lives apart from the herd.
- an individual, usually a plant, that varies from the standard.
- Archaic. a vagrant; vagabond.
Used as an adjective, a rogue is defined as abberant, defective, deviant, savage, wild, etc.
Where do I fit in with all of that? I can be quite deceitful, as my wife will readily attest. I am perfectly capable of being unprincipled, but I try to avoid it. My wife will argue that I am unreliable when it comes to household chores, but I make a conscious effort to be reliable in all other avenues of life. When it comes to auto and home repair of any kind, I am totally worthless. I can be quite mischievous, playfully and maliciously. I would never characterize myself as a beggar or vagabond but I can be quite a scrounge, especially at book trade shows as any number of publishers will attest. I am rarely vicious, but I do enjoy being solitary. I am not particularly savage or wild, at least not until I have had several glasses of wine.
Rogue Librarian is a title that suits me well. I have never been much of a team player. I can be one (much as I loathe the phrase), but I have never enjoyed it. I am quite disgusted with public education. I have worked for three school districts of various sizes and it has become painfully clear to me that all administrators are more concerned with avoiding bad publicity and lawsuits, enforcing policies, and increasing standardized test scores than with education.
Collaboration with teachers is something I always enjoy doing with those blessed few who have the interest and take the time to do it. I genuinely feel sorry for the good teachers I worked with who know how and what to teach but cannot because they have to follow the idiotic diktats imposed upon them by the morons who control the policies and purse strings.
I don’t know if I will ever again work as a librarian in the traditional sense of the word, but this blog will be one of many ways I will continue to perform what I consider the most important role of the librarian–promoting the reading of books. Since children’s and young adult literature is my area of expertise and is what I enjoy reading most, it will be the primary focus of my blog. That’s not to say I won’t talk about adult books, too. Being a rogue, I’ll talk about whatever I want to talk about within the realms of books and reading.