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!

Real World Lessons Learned Post MLIS: A Gen Y Perspective

Victoria Vanlandingham is a 26 year old Young Adult Librarian at Los Angeles Public Library in Los Angeles, CA.  If you have any questions you can contact her at: vickiv922[at sign]yahoo.[dot]com.

For the past year or so I have been working in my first post-MLIS job as a Young Adult Librarian for a large metropolitan public library system in California. Gaining an enormous amount of experience in a short time, I have learned lessons in what it takes to being a good YA Librarian who has positive rapport with her teens.  I have also experienced what it is like to be a Gen Y in a workplace of much older generations and how people still hold onto the stereotype of the frumpy Librarian in glasses. Last but not least, I have come face to face with the realities of working in a public library. The following numbered list will hopefully provide some honest insight to any young people who are considering embarking a career in this profession.

1. Despite the recent media coverage about the “changing face” of librarians, people do still think of a Librarian as an old grouchy woman who is shushing library patrons. I have been asked numerous times “Do you work here?” , “Is this a part-time gig?”, “Is this your internship?”, etc.

2. On the other hand, being a young librarian means that patrons are more interested in coming to you with questions about troubleshooting the library computers, current bestsellers, as well as quick service.

3. The sad reality as a young librarian is that if you are the Librarian-in-Charge for the evening and people ask who they can speak to about an issue, they will not believe that you are the person to speak with and will demand to talk with the person who is. Ouch.

4. Public libraries are obsessed with statistics in terms of circulation, patron count, school/community outreach visits, and attendance at programs. Every workday is a mission to think of how you can increase your numbers.

5. Being successful at YA programming turnout involves being proactive in the right way with teens. Carve out time the day before a program to remind them of a program you are holding the following day  (I find late afternoon works best). Remember that most teens live moment to moment and you have to go according to their “teen time clock” to reach them effectively.

6. A public librarian is in many ways a quasi-social worker. You encounter a wide variety of people and some of them are lonely, desperate, suffering from health/mental problems, and/or economic hardship. Remember to remain professional and enforce boundaries no matter what sob story you hear.

7. Do not fret if you work in a library that has a large number of non-English speakers and you can not easily communicate with patrons because of language barriers. 99 % of the time, other patrons are more than happy to help you translate so that the patrons’ needs can be met.

8. For anyone interested in being an effective Young Adult Librarian, it is really important to find a healthy balance of authority and being personable. Also, a sense of humor is crucial.

9. When it comes to selecting YA materials, it’s good to be a step ahead and not be easily discouraged if something is not immediately flying off the shelves. Even if you select a material that initially has low circ stats, check that material again a couple months later. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that you selected something that now has a large number of holds on it and gets requested all the time. A job well done. :)

10. Know that as a “Young Librarian” your enthusiasm can be refreshing to the general public and your older generation colleagues.

Do you have a concept you would like to be featured on the Young Librarian Series?  Send an email with your idea to: or visit the SUBMISSIONS page for more details! Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next week!