Magazine article Information Today

Doing Non-Day-Job-but-Still-Library-Related Things

Magazine article Information Today

Doing Non-Day-Job-but-Still-Library-Related Things

Article excerpt

There is so much that librarians do outside of their regular 9-to-5 jobs that it feels like it's time to focus on some of that groundbreaking work. Without farther ado, let's chat with Megan Emery, Chattanooga (Tenn.) Public Library's youth services librarian, an artist, an author (Cooking Up Library Programs Teens and 'Tweens Will Love; Libraries Unlimited, 2015), and more all rolled into one big yarn ball of positive library energy.

How do you manage all of your non-day-job-but-still-library-related things? I love libraries, but at the end of the day, my mind says, "OK, let's just sit here on the couch."

I've been thinking a lot about that lately. I believe I've become much better about "turning off' after work. I've started meditating, cooking more, generally being a better spouse, and spending more time with my dog and cat. Yet, I'm also creating more than ever before, and I think it's because I've evolved in how I'm working off the clock.

I'd hear about an interesting article and immediately begin thinking about how it could be implemented at work. I'd see a pop culture trend and begin building a budget and program structure in my head so I could give it to the kids in my community. I'd observe an interior decorating trend and begin to consider how long it would hold up in a family space. Now, I'm not so distracted by the kind of "front line" or even "behind the scenes" types of service with which I used to be obsessed and tried to implement immediately. Now, I can't stop thinking about deeper ways I can help the world.

A lot of what you do in the library world is highly creative.

Tell me what your artistic process looks like.

Recently, I was teaching a class at a local tea shop. I brought a sewing machine and organic cotton fabric and was teaching folks to sew their own reusable tea bags. One of the girls working at the tea shop said something that totally blew me away. She said, "You're an artist. And I'm thankful our government hired you. And I think our governments should hire more artists." I had never thought of myself as an artist before. I believe there are artistic parts to all jobs, but never allowed myself to sit and soak in that title personally. It's been a few months since this interaction, and I realize she's totally right.

Libraries have been hiring more creatively for decades, and it's really showing in the fabulous work that's being done all over the world. Our parameters are being stretched, and our services are being modernized in ways I would have killed for when I was a kid. I'm insatiable when it comes to what I want to offer. I'm almost never satisfied, and I constantly have ideas that I know will be turned down because as a former leader told me a couple years ago, "What you're describing is not libraries, it's art installations."

When I speak at conferences, I like to remind folks that librarians are conduits to the universe. We literally are turning people on to the myriad rabbit holes and worlds within worlds we're gifted in this lifetime. How could that not inspire you to learn more, provide more, and create more?

What is your recent project, The Healing Library (curiouscity dpw.com/2017/10/17/healinglibrary), all about?

My last few years personally have involved a lot of death and a lot of change. Initially, I was not dealing well with it and participated in some destructive behaviors. Through some serious personal investment, I developed healthy ways to deal with the stress and to deal with my new version of normal. …

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