Librarian Wardrobe got to chat with Justin Hoenke, Teen Librarian extraordinaire today for some teen librarian style advice and reflection. Check out the end of the post to get more details on what Justin is up to and why you should know him!
Librarian Wardrobe: What is the dress code at your library? What do you typically wear to work?
Justin Hoenke: It depends on where the person works. A lot of our circulation staff wears some laid back clothing because they’re always on the move. Our librarians tend to dress a bit more professionally (slacks, shirts, some ties for the men). I’m super jazzed up about shirts with epaulets. They make me feel like I’m in the army and that I’m wearing a uniform. I own about four shirts with epaulets that all look the same. I am also really excited about polyester pants. They feel good, yo. On Fridays, I usually wear a comic book or library themed t-shirt.
LW: Do you think the way you dress influences how teens interact with you in any particular way? Either as seeing you as someone to relate to or an authority figure, etc.?
JH: I’ve always taken the approach that if you’re gonna work with teens and be a library professional at the same time, you’ve gotta tone it down a bit. That means not wearing suits and ties all the time, but instead just presenting something that looks nice but relaxed. I most always wear sneakers because they’re A) comfy and B) I really believe teens see that as laid back and welcoming. Sometimes I’ll spice it up with a tie (very random) but I think the teens see that as more of a neat treat.
LW: With the laid back atmosphere/style of teen librarianship, how did you dress for your interview at your current position? What advice would you give to librarians looking for work as a teen librarian (as far as how to dress for interviews)?
JH: I really believe that what you wear to an interview doesn’t make or break the interview, but what really matters is the enthusiasm you bring to the job and your profession. That will shine more than any tie, wing tipped shoes, or fancy pants.
With that said, I wore this to my interview:
Just kidding. I think I spiced it up a bit professionally. Nice collared shirt, a sweater vest, and brand new pants. I don’t think I’ve worn the same outfit since.
LW: What about when you’re giving presentations at conferences or otherwise? Do you dress up at all or do you wear similar things that you wear to work?
JH: Exact same thing I wear to work, except with a nametag.
LW: Any final thoughts or comments?
JH: Be exciting, but most importantly, be yourself.
Justin Hoenke is a teen librarian and video gaming enthusiast who has written about these subjects for publications such as Library Journal, VOYA, and is a regular contributor for the blog Tame The Web. Justin is a member of the 2010 ALA Emerging Leaders class and and a MLIS graduate of the Department of Library Science at the Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He is currently the Teen Librarian at the Portland (ME) Public Library, where he is responsible for teen collection development and programming as well as overseeing the video game and graphic novel collection for the library system. He’s also currently working on a book for ALA Editions on video game collection development for public libraries. Follow Justin on Twitter at @justinlibrarian. If you’re interested in having Justin speak at your library/conference/program about teen librarianship or video gaming in libraries, please contact him at justinthelibrarian at gmail dot com.