Library School vs Librarian

If one were to read my earlier posts then current posts without knowing anything about me, I would come across as a wishy-washy, scatterbrained idiot. I love to learn – that’s why I always want more degrees (and why I became a librarian). Looking back on some of the older posts from school remind me how much things can change (I rarely go back to read my posts, but the #hacklibschool project made me curious). So for those new to my life & blog here’s my story…

I’ve worked in libraries for years – academic, public, and special – and I’ve been a library user (it is like a drug) for even longer. I still remember my elementary school librarian and I’m still friends with my favorite librarians from my undergrad days. But after working at a circ desk in a public library, I decided it was time to go back to school.

When I went back to get my MLIS, I had every intention of following that up with law school (because I’m interested in policy, privacy, censorship, etc – libraries & law go together). So I moved to Tucson to start the program and suck up to professors who would later write glowing recommendations. About halfway through my first semester, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was given roughly 6-9 months to live. I was in a position to move back to Phoenix to help out – so that’s what I did.

Law school was forgotten. I helped my family and focused on finishing my MLIS. In the meantime, I was persuaded by my brother-in-law to look into nursing school. He was always worried about me and my future. Not to mention, the job market wasn’t looking great (we’re talking 2009, things weren’t pretty in Phoenix). After months of looking for a PT job while I was finishing up my degree, I finally found one! From Oct 2009-Sept 2010 I worked in a community hospital’s library. By then, I thought nursing school would work out great…

After graduating, I stayed at the hospital PT because I was supposed to go FT (long story, basically, I wasn’t offered FT Librarian vs Library Assistant until I gave my notice) and there weren’t a lot of job opportunities out there. I applied all over the place for FT librarian positions, but they required more experience. (I hate seeing job postings that ask for “supervisory” experience, but only want that experience if it was IN a library. I had more supervisory experience as a Men’s dept Manager at a major department store chain then most people in supervisory positions in libraries – as in, I managed 30+ people in retail vs in a library it’s like 2 people. I digress…)

I graduated in May – no jobs…I applied for everything. Finally in July, awesome position for an Emerging Tech Librarian. I applied…I didn’t get it (being second choice sucks). The other person didn’t take it and now here I am!

When I was in library school, I knew about libraries and how they work. However, being a librarian is different. It’s more of a give and take between what you want to do because it’s so great versus what can happen because of budget, resources, and local politics. I have loads of ideas and my job title sounds awesome, but I can only do what our affiliate libraries can handle. So am I going to make sure everyone is on Facebook and Twitter? No. Because I don’t have the time to update everyone’s status and they don’t have the time to do it either. Will I make sure they’re aware of what’s out there and how to use it? Yes. We have all these great tools at our fingertips, but using all of them is kind of silly. Not to mention, it depends on where you are…some folks still think of blogs as new.

Before I start to sound even more redundant then I already do. Being a librarian is very different than being in library school. After the education is complete, you start all over and learn what YOUR job and library system need you to know.

Is Facebook something library schools should be teaching? No. It’s social media – do it on your own time. Should I be teaching it to the staff at my affiliate libraries? Yes. Because they’re patrons are using it even if they aren’t.

I learned a lot in library school – about myself and about libraries. I wouldn’t change my experience at all because it brought me to this point in my life. I may have changed my mind a lot, but I’m very happy where I am now.

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