Librarians do not have to be mommies to their patrons.
We can be caring, warm, helpful, and nurturing, yes. We can know what to say to calm a screaming toddler. We can captivate a room full of kindergartners. We might even love some of the kids that we work with.
But we are so much more than that. We are talented storytellers, performers, researchers, and educators. We are knowledgeable about childhood development. We are deep wells, filled with book recommendations. We are experienced children’s workers. We are experts.
No one needs to have a kid in order for those things to be true. No one needs to have a kid to understand which picture book suits which age range. No one needs to have a kid so they can learn more storytime songs. You don’t need to have a baby to know that newborns don’t absorb every plot point of a narrative arc. If your profession is Children’s Librarian, you should know all of this regardless of what goes on in your personal life. It’s part of the job.
You don’t need to be a mommy to find passion for your work.
To insinuate that “mommies” make better children’s librarians is to greatly diminish the work that librarians do. I have at times taken on a nurturing role in my library work, and many times people have assumed that I have kids of my own. But I can’t imagine how having a kid would make me any more talented or knowledgeable than I already am about my job.
Librarians without kids: I see you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t understand kids until you have your own, or that your storytimes would be better if you were a mommy.
Children’s librarians who aren’t cis women: I see you too. I’m sorry that the narrative continually leaves you out. You are amazing. You got this.
This personal post is in response to an ongoing Twitter conversation, sparked by a blog post entitled “How Motherhood Has Influenced Me as a Children’s Librarian.”
This article is really messed up and condescending for a lot of reasons, but the one that made me bristle most is:— Karissa Fast (@karissafast) August 1, 2020
"Children seem to know a mommy when they see one."
This is the opposite of my experience! I don't have kids, but kid patrons are always asking me if I do. https://t.co/hOXPQnZpD2
One thought on “No, You Don’t Have to Be a Mommy to Be a Good Children’s Librarian”
Thank you for sharing! I was a children’s librarian for 2.5 years and was often asked if I had kids, followed by the “WHY NOT?!” when I said no.
I’m now a teen librarian, and I’ve already had one person tell me that I can’t say I love working with kids when I don’t have any myself. Seeing that article a few months back made me so tired and frustrated, because having children does not make someone better at working with them.