This time of year is ripe for reflection on what has occurred in the last year. It is also a great time to go out to the movies.
This week I took my family to see the Charlie Brown movie. If you have not seen it, I would highly recommend it for how true it stays to the original television specials with plenty of 21st century updates and for the overall message.
As the closing credits rolled, I started to think about how similar perceptions of librarians are to Charlie Brown's in the Peanuts comic strip.
Without giving away the entire plot, Charlie Brown's quest in the movie is to somehow impress the familiar little red hair girl who has just joined his class. As the film opens, Charlie Brown is filled with the familiar feelings of inadequacy and low expectations from his peers about what he has to offer. He is unsure that he has anything in his character which will interest the little red haired girl in becoming his friend. So what will spark him to overcome these obstacles?
Much like Charlie Brown of the comic strip, as librarians we have all had moments when we have all felt this way; maybe it is following in the footsteps of a stereotypical librarian, working with a a less than receptive element of the staff, or even just fear about trying something new or outside of the box.
Fortunately, the stereotype of Charlie Brown in the cartoon is far different from the character on the screen. As librarians in the 21st Century, we have much to learn from how different the Charlie Brown of the movie is from the character in the cartoon:
Charlie Brown steps in to help those who are in need without regard for personal cost. He sacrifices his own performance at the school talent show in order to save his sister's act by improvising a new character in her skit that brings the house down.
Charlie Brown is honest. When a mistake leads to his award for a perfect test score, he is honest about it and gives credit to the individual who actually earned the award.
Charlie Brown understands the pulse of his environment and coworkers. When he sees the Little Red Haired Girl practicing for an upcoming dance competition, he secretly practices at home to align his plans with hers.
Charlie Brown supports others, even going so far as to write a book report for his group when his partner is not in school for several days.
Late in the movie, Charlie Brown asks the Little Red Haired girl why she wanted to be his book report partner. Her response is classic. She says: "That's easy. it is because I admire the type of person you are. You showed compassion for your sister at the talent show, honesty at the assembly, and at the dance you were brave yet funny. And what you did for me, doing the book report while I was away was so sweet of you. "
In 2016, may we all be like the Charlie Brown of the movie, librarians who are people our staff and patrons admire. Librarians who work this year to do a little more good, show a little more compassion, and act a little more bravely to meet the needs of our patrons and staff. Behind the scenes, we can make a huge difference for our learning communities and help to reshape the past stereotypes of librarians into a more clear vision of what a 21st Century Librarian can be!
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Creative Commons Image Credit
Espindola, Gerardo. Cancion Charlie Brown Snoopy Charlie Brown De Vince Guaraldi Para Oír Linus and Lucy 1. Digital image. Flickr. N.p., 17 June 2012. Web. 3 Jan. 2016. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/gerardoespindola/7483027960>.