Library roots, routes, and routines

Considering that this is the last official week of CPD23 and I am sill about eight things behind, I’m going to go ahead and skip around a little. It’s somewhat out of character for me to deviate from sequential order, but right now it feels more important for me to regain some momentum with this project. And what better way to get another thing under my belt than to tackle something I’ve basically already written? That’s right. Thing 20 is about library careers, with special focus on the Library Day in the Life and Library Roots/Routes projects.

Don't you wish you could see a day in the life of this library route?

I participated in my first round of Library Day in the Life right here on this blog in July 2011. I had fun documenting my week, even if it wasn’t 100% library-related. I’d like to think that my posts are an example of the diversity of opportunities available in our profession. I know many librarians are unemployed or under-employed these days, so I hope at least some of you can relate to my experiences with making the most of a part-time library experience. I look forward to contributing to future rounds of Library Day in the Life, hopefully with a little more library activity next time!

I also wrote about my Library Roots/Routes for Thing 10. It took me forever to find the words for that post, and I’m not really going to try to elaborate on it now. Instead, I’ll try to reflect on a theme I noticed when reading other posts before and after publishing my story. The one thing most of us seem to have in common is that we never expected to be a librarian when we grew up. It was simply not something we thought about as a child or young adult, no matter how much we might have loved books. I wonder if this is is because we encounter so few librarians in our day-to-day lives. I remember a couple of librarians from the children’s department at my hometown public library, and I can almost visualize my elementary school librarian. But for all I knew as a kid, these were the only librarians around, which would not make librarianship seem like a career with realistic job prospects. I realize there’s still room for debate on that last part, but I think we’d all agree that there are more than three librarian jobs in the world. Not only that, there are many other types of library jobs outside the children’s department and the school media center. I guess we just tend to learn about the other professional possibilities by chance encounters. I definitely had never thought about special libraries or corporate libraries before stumbling into my job, and now I think that’s the likely direction of my career.

The Library Day in the Life and Library Roots/Routes projects are truly inspirational, as they demonstrate the power of online collaboration as well as the strengths of our diverse professional ranks. Whether or not we originally intended to become librarians, it seems that most of us truly feel as if we’ve found our calling.

Image credit: Crossett Library Bennington College


3 Comments on “Library roots, routes, and routines”

  1. Erin says:

    I full support finishing the program in whatever order works best for you. You can make it!

    I am interested in your suggestion that many people never considered becoming a librarian because they only knew a few librarians. Do you think it is still the case? If so, do you have thoughts on how to change it?

    Also, side note: I am excited that you used a photo from Crossett Library! My sister attended Bennington and worked in the library.

  2. Nicole Brock says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Erin. Better late than never, at least when it comes to professional development. I’d never heard of the Crossett Library before seeing this photo – I just liked the old-fashioned bookmobile!

    I do still think my suggestion might be accurate. I think people might get to know their local librarian, but may not necessarily extrapolate that to an understanding of the different types of libraries and related jobs. People see the librarians on the front lines with responsibilities like circulation, reference, and storytime, but I suspect they have very little awareness of the folks behind the scenes in cataloging, collection development, etc. And then of course there are corporate librarians with titles like researcher, analyst, knowledge manager. I never knew those types of jobs existed until I started working in a library and considering library school.

    I’m not too sure how we’d change it, but I’m also not convinced that we need to. I mean, isn’t everyone always complaining about how there aren’t enough jobs for librarians? If we advertised how cool the profession is, there would just be more competition! ;)

    But seriously, somewhere in here I think there’s a tie-in to the advocacy discussion. Since so many people think being a librarian is all about checking out books, how do we communicate all of the different skills librarians have and the services we can provide? Maybe I’ll circle back around to this when I get to Thing 16.

  3. Erin says:

    Good points! I also was not aware of all of the different types of “librarians” until beginning the process of applying to library school. One of the people I did an informational interview with mentioned that many organizations are looking for a librarian, even if they do not use that title or know that they are looking for a librarian. Job hunting now has made that fact even more apparent.

    Yes, advocacy is important in so many ways!.

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