To the Literacy Van!

This month I will be taking on a new position with the Edmonton Public Library as a member of the EPL Literacy Van. What is the EPL Literacy Van? Oh, nothing to spectacular, just a roving van of awesomeness delivering library programming and digital literacy experiences to the citizens of Edmonton! Not your traditional bookmobile, epl2go is a mobile library branch that aims to connect the communities of Edmonton, particularly those communities which are currently under-served by EPL with the benefits of library programmes and membership services. Currently, Edmonton Public Library has 17 branches and 2 Lending Machines throughout the city, but Edmonton is a city that continues to grow. As a result, distance from and transportation to branches is one of the barriers faced by some of the communities in Edmonton. epl2go will work to break down this barrier as we bring EPL out to the communities. As well, we will be visiting various organizations and institutions who can benefit from EPL programmes and resources, both in the inner city and out in the new developments. In addition to simply being a presence in the community, we will also be focusing on digital literacy. As the world continues on toward the digital age, the library, as a both a centre and a facilitator of information, knowledge, and growth must strive to remain relevant; and with projects like epl2go, that is exactly what we are doing by focusing on digital literacy and programming that entices, challenges, and inspires people.

As of yet, Im not to sure what a typical day will look like. Essentially we, my two colleagues and I, will be building this thing from the ground up. It’s very exciting, but also more than a little frightening. I’m really don’t know what I’ve got myself into, but I guess what attracted me the most to the position was that it is not a typical library job. I’ve been with EPL for almost 19 years. In that time I’ve worked in several positions and have seen many changes, but there has always been a cloud that’s hung over me; it is the ever-present cloud of uneasiness. I’m not your typical library employee; I don’t read much. I don’t devour novels or absorb non-fiction. I don’t have vast amounts of knowledge that make me particularly stellar in a particular subject, and even in terms of general knowledge I don’t make rank. You know that phrase, fake it ’til you make it? I am most definitely still faking it. As a result, I’ve never really felt like I belong in the library. That’s not to say that I haven’t had the opportunity to work with amazing people who did nothing but make me feel welcome; please do not misunderstand. The staff I have worked with over the years have been an important part of my life. The library is pretty much my second home, which makes it all the more unsettling to look around me every day and realise that I really do not measure up. I think that’s why, for the past two and a half years I’ve found in the Children’s Library a place where I could thrive. We do things a little bit differently in the Children’s Library. I discovered that I was good at reading stories to children; that I could stand in front of a group of preschoolers and make animal noises; that I had an appreciation for a really good picture book. For me, working in the Children’s Library was not like working in a regular library, so even though I was still faking it, I was getting closer to perhaps making it. That’s why it’ll be difficult to leave. I am comfortable where I am, and now I’m throwing myself into chaos.

With my upcoming position I will be redefining what it is to work for a library. Maybe by helping to shape to this hitherto nebulous enterprise I can find a place in my library family where I don’t have to worry about being the odd child who doesn’t seem to quite fit into the family photos.

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