Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Once upon a time...

I just spent an evening listening to my talented UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies students tell stories.  Funny stories, scary stories, goofy stories, thought-provoking stories - and all in the traditional way, with no book or flannel board or props.  It was just the teller, the audience, and the story.  And though this was the first time many had told a folk tale in the oral tradition, they were awesome!

And when these amazing future librarians get jobs, they will tell stories from all over the world to kids at the library and out in the community, carrying on a century-old library tradition and an millennia-old human tradition.

I just hope UCLA GSEIS makes a strong and permanent commitment to educating and training the students who hope to go into youth services in public libraries.  It's been a struggle for the past few years.  With public libraries more crucial than ever and illiteracy rates soaring, we need well-trained and passionate youth librarians.  

Informatics and archives may be important - but we need stories and the people who tell them to children.


  1. I agree with every word of this post... except I'm not sure how encouraged I am about the idea of anyone getting a job in a public (or school) library. :(

    UCLA's lack of motivation on this front may just reflect the political forces in play in Southern California -- if the dearth of support for libraries from the city, county, and school district of Los Angeles is anything to go by.

    Keep being a great teacher and fighting the good fight for storytelling, literacy, and youth services!

  2. Thank you so much for talking about this in your post!
    As I was having my coffee this morning, I was thinking about children's services and how our work really lays the foundation for other information professionals. It's not just literacy and sharing the love of books (though both very important), but also providing the fundamental elements of information literacy, revealing the importance of information, and even a respect for the thoughts and ideas of those that have come before. People don't just flip a switch at 18 and suddenly become information literate and readers of books; someone has to prepare the way, and youth librarians, along with teachers and caregivers, are not only perfect for the responsibility, but really, really excited about it!

  3. I'm so glad that you are teaching the Storytelling class, and would just want to echo the other sentiments by saying, Amen!

  4. Eva, your storytelling class was the most influential class of my entire library school experience!

    Of course other classes were very practical (or completely impractical) but the storytelling class was a compelling introduction to something I might have missed otherwise. (At least until I came to LAPL and heard Laurie tell "The Squeaky Door" at an order meeting!)

    Not only that, I REMEMBER the stories that people told in class. It's amazing. "Anansi & the Talking Melon" - "The Turnip" - "Roly-Poly Rice Ball" - "Medio-Pollito" - "Tailypo" - "Why Ananse Has Such a Narrow Waist" - "Trial of the Stone" - "Two of Everything" - and many more!

    I enjoyed the class immensely. I hope the kids at my library get even half as much enjoyment out of hearing the stories I tell.

  5. It drives me nuts that these dedicated future children's librarians won't be instantly snatched up by LAPL and other library systems due to the The Budget Crisis - and that we will probably be laying off some of our newest bright stars. ARRGGHHH! We still have millions of Los Angeles kids and their families to serve.
    That reminds me, Sarah - I still need to tell Why Spiders Have a Thin Waist! Where's my rope...?