Job of a Lifetime

Erin Dorney is a 25 year old outreach librarian working at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. You can follow her on twitter, read her blog or send her an email to:  libraryscenester[at sign]gmail[dot]com.

Hello fellow young, ever-inspirational, forward-thinking librarians. I am requesting your assistance.

For the past year I have been the editor of the Job of a Lifetime column in College & Research Libraries News. Each column consists of an interview and accompanying podcast with a librarian who has a unique job that they love. So far, I’ve done an interview with Brian Mathews on his position as User Experience Librarian at Georgia Tech and an interview with a trio of Emerging Technologies Librarians at Towson University.

I am looking for more librarians to interview, and that’s where you all come in. I would love to feature some young librarians who truly love their jobs. The only requirements:

*You work in an academic library environment
*You love your job
*There is something unique about your position (how it was created, your responsibilities, etc)

As young librarians, you may not have been in your position for long. I have only been in my first professional library position since I graduated in the spring of ’08. We might be too inexperienced to say whether this is literally our “job of a lifetime” but just because we haven’t been here long doesn’t mean that we can’t love what we do. It’s a great opportunity to share your passion and let people know about the new and unique positions young librarians are contributing to. Please consider contacting me and spreading the news about this opportunity.

If you want to know more about me, feel free to check out my blog where I cover various topics including conferences, ALA, emerging leaders, LIS students, user experience, next-gen librarianship, marketing and outreach. Some of the most popular posts that may be of interest include So, you’re thinking about becoming a librarian?, Library Day in the Life, Ohio & King Library, and 5 Surprises from first year as an MLIS.

I hope to hear from you soon! Keep on making me proud to be a librarian.

– Erin

Interested in submitting something to the Young Librarian Series? Check out the submissions page or send an email at: See you next week!

Book Club Details

Hello everyone!

Leah here and I wanted to keep you informed about what’s happening with the book club.

In case you missed it, here is Carrie’s posting about the creation of the Young Librarians Book Club.

We are meeting tonight at 6PM to discuss The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter.

For details or if you have any questions please contact Carrie at: ca_straka[the at sign]yahoo[the dot sign]com. Otherwise feel free to post your thoughts below on the book! And happy reading!

A Manifesto

Hello everyone! Leah here and I figured it’s my turn to write something on the Young Librarian Series. Although it’s a cliché interview question, I have always found people’s paths to librarianship to be telling. So I thought I would share mine, encompassed in what I’d like to think is a tiny bit of my manifesto of why I am a librarian. In case you don’t already know, I am a 27 year old librarian at the Pritzker Legal Research Center at the Northwestern University School of Law. You can follow me on twitter: @leahlibrarian. Enjoy.

My mother was not a librarian, and although she taught me to love books, she is not the reason I decided on this career.  In fact, it was something that today I find rather amusing considering my sincere devotion to technology and new media.  No, my career as a librarian began with a stamp.  It was the old fashioned stamp at the circulation desk, the one with the dials that changed to a specific date and made a little mechanical thump when applied to the card in the back of my book.  While I cannot explain my fascination with this stamp, I can tell you that I longed for a position where someday I too would be the bearer of such awesome responsibility.  I will never forget when the Parchment Community Library switched to a barcode and computer system.  Gone were the days of the stamp and now began a time of blips and pings with the scanning of ugly barcodes that had disgracefully been placed on my Amelia Bedelia books.  The idea of becoming a librarian vanished from my thoughts for many years.

While slogging away at my English degree in college, I worked as a part-time server at a slow food café.  My shifts were mostly lunches, the kind that required lots of smiling and customer service, two important work skills that I came to realize I rather enjoyed.  Coincidentally this café happened to be the favorite lunch spot for many librarians from the Kalamazoo Public Library.  Being the chatty person that I am, I spoke with them about feeling lost in a sea of academia and my conviction that the profession of English Professor was not looking so hot these days.  I found a great deal of encouragement and camaraderie from these men and women.  They encouraged me to enter the library profession and helped me secure an internship at the Kalamazoo Law Library.  They brought me to luncheons and meet-ups, introduced me to many librarians along the way, and showed me that there was a profession that combined my English degree and my love for providing great service.  This mentoring and encouraging attitude inspires me to this day.

Ducking my head and following the crowd doesn’t sit well with me.  I have been told this makes for a natural leader but my mother would say she raised me to follow my heart.  While she may not be the reason for my librarian career directly, she has always encouraged me to speak my mind and stand up for what I believe is true and right.  I am not ashamed in my belief that some libraries are struggling to make progress and preserve their rightful place in this changing environment.  When I hear news about libraries closing off access to social networking sites or read opinion pieces in local papers written by information professionals about the fall of the proper library to the sin of technology, it makes me that much more determined to change people’s minds.

I believe this is a new era for libraries.  That we will only grow stronger as new librarians come into the field and as progressive, established librarians guide us into a positive frame of mind for assisting the generations to come with their informational needs. I have hope.

Interested in submitting something to the Young Librarian Series? Check out the submissions page or send an email at: See you next week!


Steve Thomas is a 36 year old assistant branch manager at a public library in Georgia. He has worked in libraries for almost ten years and lives outside Atlanta with his wife, daughter, and two cats. You can follow him on Twitter @steve_librarian or contact him at steve[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com. He likes cookies.

I’m a librarian because my wife told me to.

Now, this is not the way my career started. In fact, my love of books had originally led me to a career in the bookstore business, where I was able to satiate some of my OCD-tendencies (don’t all librarians have a touch of OCD?) with shelving, straightening and organizing materials. The organization system was no Dewey and certainly no LC, but it was a start. I also got to interact with the general public, connecting them with the information and goods for which they were searching. A few years into my bookstore career path, I met my wife while we were working at the same store in Florida (according to her, you can find anything in a bookstore… even a husband), and while this “acquisition” filled one void in my life, my career felt uninspired, despite the positive aspects of the work. I moved up to supervisory positions but without any real drive. Something was missing.

One day, after we’d moved to Atlanta, my wife forwarded me an email from her graduate school about an opening at the library on campus. I applied and got the job. I loved working in the library, and it felt like I was heading in the right direction in my career. I completed library school while continuing to work at the library full-time. Unlike in the bookstore, I felt pride in my progress from a position in the stacks to a position that allowed me to work in both the reference and serials acquisitions departments. I got to work hands-on with information in a more detailed way, both in depth and organizationally. My community was a wealth of students, faculty, and staff, and I relished serving them one-on-one at the reference desk and behind the scenes in Acquisitions. The reference work in particular was instructional – the whole “teach them to fish” analogy – rather than simply gathering and passing on information to a customer in need.

However, once the time came to find a professional position, I hit that same wall many library school graduates do: there weren’t nearly as many jobs as they “promised” when I was in school. This is especially an issue in academic libraries, where I was determined to work. My wife insisted I should look into public libraries, but I resisted. Why was I so determined to remain in academic libraries? Because I loved the job I had so much that I wanted to work at an institution like that forever. So instead of waiting to find the right library job for me, I took a job that, in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have. It was an attractive job at an up-and-coming private college with grand promises of the future. After 18 months in the position, the administration and I could not come to agreement on how to serve the student population, and I lost my job.

At this point, I found myself adrift, wondering if I’d made the right career choice. I took a day to let myself wallow in self-pity then picked myself up, dusted myself off, and moved headlong back into the job-seeking business. I soon found myself applying for any job that I seemed vaguely qualified for: archiving video footage for television stations, reference work at community colleges, cataloging at universities far away from home, and what seemed oddest to me at the time, working at the local public library. Soon after, I scheduled an interview at the public library, and at some point before my interview, it hit me. The public library was the perfect intersection for my interests, allowing me to take the things I loved from bookstores and combine them with the things I loved from academic libraries. I could have that one-on-one time with the general public, helping people who don’t necessarily know how to find what they want and need and combine it with the more in-depth information available in the library’s collections. I could feel like I was contributing to my community while at the same time instructing patrons on how to find further information on their own.

I got the job and am the happiest I’ve been as an employee since I got to take home free pizzas while working at Pizza Hut.

Sometimes it pays to listen to your wife. (She says I should say “always”.)

Interested in submitting something to the Young Librarian Series? Check out the submissions page or send us an email at: See you next week!

Brand Yourself With 8bitlibrary!

Hello librarians! Leah here. I wanted to share with you a really rad idea going on over at! It’s called Project Brand Yourself a Librarian, a concept first launched here

and was initially devised from a series of Twitter conversations between @justinlibrarian and others. I’ll let Justin and his cohort JP describe the project for you themselves in their interview with ALA


So considering branding yourself at ALA Annual in DC! Also check out 8bitlibrary for some fun info on gaming and libraries. You can also follow them on twitter and become their fan on facebook!