Friday, January 8, 2010

In which my inner Youth Services Geek escapes and flies madly about the room

After a Twin Cities vacation filled with icy streets, single-digit temperatures, holiday-spirited relatives and friends, plenty of food, a fair amount of reading and reviewing, and two hours of Cybil discussion via Internet in a crowded coffeehouse, I came back to 75 degree weather in Venice. Drove up to Davis and Sacramento (weather in the 50s), drove back home (back to warm weather), and went back to work Tuesday after almost 2 weeks off.

First on the agenda Tuesday was a workshop for volunteers interested in our GAB program, in which adults read aloud to children at our libraries - we train them on the importance and techniques of reading aloud and share plenty of great books with them.

I got back to my long-neglected office at 2 pm - and shortly thereafter I was asked by our City Librarian Martin Gomez if I would be willing to become Acting Principal Librarian of a new division called Youth Services, to be composed of what is now Young Adult Services and Children's Services, as well as Central Library's Children's Literature department and Teen'scape. This will become effective within the next 6 weeks or so.

Yes! A thousand times yes!!! I tried my best to maintain a calm and professional demeanor, but inside I was bouncing all around the room like Tigger. Happiness! Joy! I believe I may well have interrupted Mr. Gomez before he even finished asking me. Yes! "Of course you have some time to think this over," he said. Didn't need time to think. Yes!

The backstory to this is that, due to an early retirement incentive package passed by the City of Los Angeles to help mitigate a tremendous budget shortfall, the Los Angeles Public Library is losing a bunch of folks to retirement - including the current head of Children's Services, who is my supervisor. Young Adult Services had already lost its Principal Librarian to retirement, and its Acting Principal is set to retire as well. And that's just a few of the more than one hundred library employees who will leave the library over the next few months. Reorganization is a necessity.

My inner Youth Services Geek (which is perhaps not so inner after all - I feel like I wear my dorky passion for it on my sleeve) is a-glow with excitement, hope, and a certain amount of nervousness. Sure, I've been thinking about children's library services nonstop for years - how best to "do it right." But young adult services? I read YA literature (particularly fantasy) with almost as much fervor as I read children's literature, and I do peruse articles and blogs on YA services and so have a basic understanding of issues like gaming, social networking, manga, and so on. I have never been a YA librarian, however - so it's time to study up. I'll be joining YALSA, subscribing to listservs, and most of all, picking the brains of the YA librarians at LAPL.

I envision my basic function to be that of an Enabler. By providing support, leadership, guidance, and top-notch training, I hope to enable our children's and YA librarians at LAPL to do their jobs with expertise and joy. We have a huge and diverse City to serve - and it's not an easy task, even in good times. We've got challenges ahead, but with a clear focus, a united sense of purpose, and unwavering support from the entire library system (top to bottom and bottom to top!), I'm certain that LAPL's youth librarians will achieve great things in Los Angeles.

With a huge grin on my face and plenty of caffeine and adrenalin coursing through my blood, I'm off to work!


  1. Congratulations! Can't wait to hear about all the exciting new things you'll be doing!

  2. Bravo and kudos to City Librarian Martin Gomez!!!! His choice of Eva Mitnick to lead youth services at LAPL demonstrates great insight and genius. YAY!

  3. I've got to admit, I was a bit surprised at the acting appointment announcements... because they all seem like great ideas. Is that normal in LAPL-land?

    I'm excited about the future. If anyone can inspire buy-in from all the (remaining) librarians in the city, it's you, Eva.

  4. This is so cool! Congratulations!

  5. Congratulations! I'm delighted that Youth Services will be in such good hands!

  6. Oh! And I meant to say... you're not a member of YALSA?
    I think you'll like them enormously. YALSA members always strike me as much more tech-savvy and hip than ASLC. Not afeared of the interwebs, those Yalsans. ;)