Monday 1 September 2014

In Praise of Children’s Librarians

I have a confession to make. It had been quite a while since I’d visited my local library. Between full time work as an academic librarian, marking LIS essays, and volunteering for ALIA Sydney I suddenly realised it had been a long time since I’d walked through the doors of a public library as an actual patron.

But this year everything changed. Being a mama for the first time can be challenging. Going from full time work to full time parent isn’t only a shift in identity, it’s a shift in your day-to-day routines. Things slow down to baby time. Some days are unbelievably full of joy and love, while others are slightly bewildering and a little bit lonely. Your income is reduced, your friends all tend to work five days a week, and you have this beautiful yet demanding being completely relying on you. There are good days and bad ones.

So. What to do for (free) entertainment? Well lately I’ve been going to the baby rhyme time sessions run by my local library. Music, singing, reading, showing off new books and best of all an enthusiastic children’s librarian always making the new mama in the room feel so very welcome. Now of course it doesn’t always work out. Many times I’m ready to head out the door but my bub decides it’s naptime. Or we’re both too tired to head out. Some libraries book out their sessions a month in advance, as I found when I stayed at my mum’s place for a while. Or I forget to phone in the morning to get a spot at my local.

But the other week I found myself walking in the winter sunshine with two other mums down Glebe Point Road, on time and with all our babies awake at once. We’d taken an excursion to another suburb to visit their rhyme time session. We walked in and were met by a librarian singing a greeting to all the babies in the room. I looked around at the happy faces and as my baby smiled in response I felt the isolation of parenting retreat far into the background.

Thank you, to children’s librarians everywhere for making this parenting journey a little bit easier.

-Sarah (Sef) Fearnley

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