Being flexible

Something I've learned about this past year is being flexible. I've been told over and over again that being flexible is the mark of a good librarian: with everything from funding cuts to volunteer management, life can be unpredictable. Luckily in my artist life I've learned a lot about being flexible. Especially in Laos, where I was on a Fulbright in 2010-2011 (see my muraling blog for more info!), I had to learn to roll with the lateness, not showing up, miscommunications, misunderstandings, my lack of cultural competency, etc! I learned how to not be disappointed, and not be sad when the workshops are much less attended than I hoped, and to adapt adapt adapt and try to meet people where they were. Being aware of why folks don't come, being self-reflexive about my own position and work, and being forgiving of myself were the main skills I had to utilize. This year, I started in the fall desperately looking for something library related to put on my resume (since I just jumped into this field blind!). I emailed an Oakland school about an internship they posted, even though I couldn't get credit for it yet. I came and tried to do a workshop on art and the library - we were going to make beautiful displays about their favorite book. However, it didn't work out - the schedule kept changing, the students were super busy, the librarian didn't get back to me - and so it fizzled. I was bummed, but by then had enough on my plate to know something new was coming.

And then in the spring, I worked with a librarian, Susan Maldonado, at the 81st Avenue branch in Oakland to create a mural workshop. I met her at the CLA conference. There was a room full of youth librarians talking about how to get more Facebook likes and discussing cute programming ideas, and she asked if they could look for resources for libraries in communities that were experiencing crisis. I really appreciated that perspective and offered to do a mural workshop. In the end though, I could only come Thursdays form 330 - 5 (when the library closed), and teens couldn't make it down the hill from their high schools in time. I had planned a big curriculum that was based on a group of teens coming every week and building on last week, and then realized I needed to shift into a drop-in style workshop, and then realized that the time was just wrong. I had tweens showing up, but they would flit in and out because their parents would come, etc. - and they weren't quite the right age to be making the mural for the teen zone. And so, we decided to make it a one-day summer workshop. I'll be working with two teen interns, Carlos and Alejandra, who seem awesome. Pictures to come soon!

Long story short - I ended up working hard on some things that didn't work out. But in the end, I think they led me to interesting and realistic activities in the end, and I don't regret it at all. I have learned a lot from every dead end!