Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cory Eckert: A GIF-filled Tribute (Band?)

Soooo something awesome happened today, and that is: Cory Eckert, founder of Guerrilla Storytime and co-creator of Storytime Underground, was named a 2014 Library Journal Mover & Shaker.I was one of the many librarians who nominated her,in good company with Angie, Kendra, and Amy (and I'm sure there's more). In the spirit of lifting each other up and the fact that the little blurb did not do her justice, Here's what I wrote about Cory-- this time, with GIFs.

Cory Eckert is the visionary mind behind the Guerrilla Storytime movement and The Storytime Underground community, which includes a blog, a Google group, and a Facebook group.  The youth services librarians who involve themselves in this community are empowered to share their ideas for literacy development and storytime programming.

Guerrilla Storytime is a pop-up program that began in the 2013 ALA Annual Conference Networking Uncommons.  Hosted by Cory, participants volunteered to share their youth services experiences by approaching the microphone and drawing a craft stick from a glitter-encrusted jar. The questions, from “what is your favorite book to highlight letter knowledge?” to “how do you handle parents who talk loudly or are playing on their phones during storytime?” are answered or demonstrated by the volunteer. Others are welcome to join in or approach the microphone to give their opinions on the matter. Kendra Jones posted a videorecap of ALA Annual’s Guerrilla Storytime, which through social media channels then became 3 total sessions, two of which happened in the Networking Uncommons and one in front of the model house in the center of the conference hall.

The power of Guerrilla Storytime is in its simplicity. It’s very easy to run and participate, and so has quickly become a phenomenon.  It also empowers youth services librarians specifically in two of the aspects we struggle: self-promotion, and realizing when we are innovating (rather than assuming others know what we know). Some of the quietest librarians have felt encouraged through Guerrilla Storytime to share what they know, and what they do. Youth services librarians discuss the hows and whys behind their thinking, and are liberated by the feeling they are in a safe space, surrounded by their colleagues (even if the microphone can be heard throughout the entire exhibit hall).

Between Guerrilla Storytime and the Storytime Underground social media campaign, youth services librarians not only have a greater sense of solidarity but we are also positioned now to better educate other librarians about what we do, and how the songs and stories we use are deliberate efforts to build the foundations of reading in children. By the third session at ALA Annual, many non-youth services librarians gathered to see what the fuss was about (15 adults singing “Five Little Speckled Frogs” at the tops of their lungs is bound to get some attention). Some made a point to approach Cory and let her know that they had never attended a storytime before, and had a new-found respect for what youth services librarians do.

And THAT is some powerful moving and shaking, whether or not you can play ukulele correctly.

(The next question was: "Describe one attribute or characteristic that illustrates nominee’s unique ability")

I have two characteristics, so I’ll roll them into one:
“moxie-filled humility”.
Cory respects all youth librarians, and many times stands in awe of what she set in motion. To talk to her, you wouldn't think that she began an international campaign.  She is quick to lift up others and promote them for their work, and I’d be willing to bet that she isn’t even expecting nominations.  Cory shares her ideas and credit with everyone she comes in contact with.  Cory is not present at many of the Guerrilla Storytimes around the globe, nor does she believe she needs to be. 

Cory has a certain genuineness that makes everyone feel like her best friend. She stands up for what she believes in, and uses her platform to encourage others to do the same (for an example of this, check out her post on Privilege, Intention and Impostor Syndrome). She gives off this air that if she can do it, anyone can.

And truly, that’s why I sincerely hope Cory Eckert is selected as a 2014 Library Journal Mover & Shaker; because if she is chosen, in a sense, all youth librarians will feel like winners.**
…and we’ll make sure to bring some Move-and-Shakey Eggs with us!

(** I didn't know how much I meant this last part till now.)

Seriously, if you've never been to a Guerrilla Storytime, YOU HAVE TO GO! There's one at PLA this week hosted by Brooke at Reading with Red.

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