Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Best Advice for Library Careers

"The best career advice I received was the importance of gaining hands-on experience in a library, even if that means doing volunteer work."
~ Stephanie, adult services librarian

I started volunteering at a branch of my local public library. For a few hours every weekend, I shelve books (lately in the always lively children's section), shelf-read in all sections of the library, shelve DVDs and music CDs after locking their cases, and pull expired items from the holds area so that they can be checked back into the system. The longer I volunteer, the more responsibilities I hope to take on.
Following some career advice, I've begun volunteering at the public library, shelving books and other tasks.
Photo credit: cybrgrl/Flickr

Volunteering at a public library is something that I definitely want to do, primarily so that I can get current hands-on experience in a library. Fortunately, the hours that I'm asked to come in for work well with my already full schedule, which includes working full-time in publishing in the daytime and attending library school part-time in the evenings. Once I'm at the library, however, the hours seem to fly by. Still it's a lot to juggle. Stephanie, the adult services librarian, concurs:

"I know that working full-time and finishing grad school is not easy, and trying to squeeze in a few hours a week of unpaid work in a library seemed overwhelming when I first thought of doing it. However, I found that once I was at the library, I really enjoyed my time there and it wasn't overwhelming at all. I knew for sure it would be well worth it in the long run."

Stephanie and other recent library school graduates shared the best career advice they ever got with the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO). In the article "Getting Started in the Profession: New Info Pros Share Their Best Career Advice," Stephanie and her peers had this to say:

"My Pratt [Institute] instructor said, 'Your education in this profession does not end with a graduate diploma at library school. Technology and the field of information are continuously evolving. Stay in step of what is happening and aware of what is to come in the future."
~ Clara, research and reference specialist

"If you study library science and you play your cards right, you can become an expert and aficionado on almost any topic you want and work in almost any field. That advice came to me from the Barnard zine librarian, Jenna Freedman. Interested in law? Become a law librarian. Interested in music? Become a music librarian. Huge Woody Guthrie fan? Maybe you can get a job at the Woody Guthrie Archive! There are libraries and archives for nearly everything, and that is counting all of the private and personal archives that are out there."
~ Caitlin, visiting curator

"'Sometimes we have to let go to run our course.' I followed this advice, and while it was scary, it led me to a new job that I love. I was in a toxic situation at a job when I decided to follow my dream and go back to school for library science. I'm now a librarian at a wonderful school with awesome kids and great coworkers." 
~ Laura, librarian

"Dr. Bea Badden, during a panel discussion, advised attendees, 'Use what you're passionate about as the basis for your career.' There are so many possibilities in the world of librarianship, especially when you consider that the positions or projects which might be the most fitting for you personally might not have the word 'librarian' in the description at all. Focus on what you know you love to do, what talents you have, and be creative: find evidence of those things in job and project descriptions. In my experience, following these small cues will ultimately lead you to a rewarding and fulfilling experience you never could have predicted."
~ Jaime, National Digital Stewardship resident

For additional best career advice from these and other recent library school grads, check out the METRO article "Getting Started in the Profession: New Info Pros Share Their Best Career Advice" at THIS LINK.

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