A Love Letter to Librarianship


For the first time since I’ve been a librarian, I’ve been thinking of what else I could do with these skills not because I feel overworked, but because I feel like maybe this isn’t the right profession for me any more. This was never just a job for me. It’s my career, my profession. I love my job. I love my library. But, my passion is about my whole profession. So, if this profession is going to be about yelling and screaming all over the Internet and shaming people who ask questions because they are not on the RIGHT side of an issue, then maybe it’s time. Somewhere, I feel like we lost civility. Or so it seems. Of course, what I could do is just stand with the many who remain silent, stay clueless about whatever the issue is, or just choose not to engage. That sounds like the easier path, really.

Like with almost everything I write, I’m just writing this sort of free thought. There is SO MUCH negativity and animosity in my profession these days that it makes me sad. So, I thought this week I would simply tell librarianship why I love it so very much.


Dear Librarianship,

I love you because I have made amazing friendships all over the country (and even in some other countries) because of you. We connect at conferences and on social media and we engage each other and befriend each other in very meaningful ways. I love you because you make me think. All of the time. My colleagues ask great questions, post good things to read, and are really quite an intelligent group of people. I love you, librarianship, because you do good things for people in your library spaces. GREAT things even.

I love you, librarianship, because I learn something new everyday. Because someone within it says something thought provoking nearly every day. I love librarianship because I get to read books. All day long. (Ha, I kid.) I love you, librarianship, because you make me laugh every day. I love my colleagues who are good at what they do and have fun too and share stories with each other.

I love you, librarianship, because I’ve had the best mentors in this career. They are also great friends and I am so grateful for them.

I love you, librarianship, because we share our triumphs and our struggles together. I love going to conferences and hearing about all of the great stuff my friends are doing or to hear about something new. I love to hear about the good fights we are fighting to help our communities. I love how we analyze data and present evidence to show how awesome our libraries are.

I love you, librarianship, because you make wearing pencil skirts and cardigans cool.

I love you, librarianship, because now as a boss person, I get to watch new librarians blossom and grow into supernovas.

So, librarianship, this is a good thing we have going here. Let’s focus on the positive and just ignore the negative, shall we?

Love, Me.




The Hell of the Coordinator Experience and Why It’s Good for You, Librarians


Coordinator jobs in libraries can be some of the toughest jobs, no doubt. I’ve heard some feedback lately from some Director peers that they find these Coordinator positions, with a lot of variety in responsibilities, often hard to fill or get less applicants. But we need them. Instruction coordinators are everywhere (especially in academic libraries). I’ve also seen a lot of assessment coordinators, outreach coordinators, programming coordinators, collection development coordinators and so on. You often have great responsibilities and none of the power. Sometimes you have a budget, but it’s more likely that’s an afterthought. You usually have no direct reports so you’re not even getting supervisory experience. So, why is this good for you?

Because, in my opinion and experience, you will develop skills like in no other position that not everyone in libraries possesses.

  1. Political savvy: In all of the groups of librarians that I’ve done some sort of analysis of their strengths or frames of influence with, this one almost always comes in at the lowest among our peers. But, when you have no power and you need to get things done, you learn to approach people and projects with a little more savvy than the average librarian. You learn to look for clues to discover how people will react. As your political skills develop, you begin to be able to build your plans around things you’ve learned instead of jumping in and then realizing that you’ve overstepped or screwed up. You understand what WIIFM means and see the bigger picture more easily.
  2. Triaging and Prioritizing: Now, I definitely think that all librarians are good at this to an extent, but when you get to Coordinate things? You get to really juggle priorities and figure out what is an emergency and what really can become a long term project. What needs to be done absolutely before the end of the semester or needs to be completed next week? You get this down.
  3. Advocacy: Going back to the fact that if you’ve been named say, Instruction Coordinator, you probably also have no budget to bring in workshop guests or hold luncheons for your team (which you can’t require people to attend), you get good at advocating for what you need financially and otherwise. Also, you get good at telling the story about what it is that you’re trying to build.
  4. Buy-in: A good coordinator can bring people together and help them see that certain projects or work are for the good of the whole even if it’s not something you have to do.
  5. Work across department lines: Coordinators often are called just that because they have to work with a variety of people across the library and, well, coordinate things. This is a characteristic that will help you in any library because, let’s face it, we all could learn to collaborate a little better across our departments.

That being said, they are usually really busy jobs and can bring you a lot of work. You will need to work on setting limits and saying no. You will be tired. But you will learn a lot.

So, if you’re wary of that job that wants you to have your hand in twelve difference things? Try not to be. It will be a lot of work, but you will gain a bunch of experience that you might not have if you had chosen a safer, more traditional, less frenzied path.

Because I’m the Boss: Getting Things Done and Decision Making


My new boss, while we discussed how the campus faculty were “angry” about a decision she made, said this to me: “I could move this slip of paper from here to here and unhappiness will occur. People will say we should have discussed it more first. They should have known I was going to move it before I decided to move it. That’s nonsense. Move it. They’ll complain either way.”

She’s kind of a genius and I really like her. (Plus, she likes shoes. A lot.)

Communication or Consultation

So here we start my next post, discussing something that drives me crazy every day. You see, there is a lot of complaining around here about lack of communication (not just in the library). Some of it may be valid. No one is perfect and information can certainly fall through the cracks. But, I also had an epiphany this morning. People aren’t complaining about communication per se, but rather, they are annoyed that they are not consulted every step of the way. At the end of the day, I am the Director. I am the Bosslady. I get to make the decisions. I also get to delegate decisions to others to make. I would like all of our decisions to be informed, data driven, and reasonable. Ultimately, it will be me who is accountable for those decisions.

We are a smallish organization. Even at this size, not every person will be involved in every project and every decision. We have a lot of transparency throughout our processes and I am always working to implement more. Everyone who supervises someone in this building hears things or reads things or both at least three or four different ways. We keep agendas and notes now for everything. I encourage communication and collaboration between units and with supervisors continually. But, it would be impossible to truly move any organization forward with a decision by consensus for everything. For example, if we are re-examining the guest user policy? I’m tasking a few people most informed on the issue to come up with the new policy, keep me posted of changes, and then inform the staff of those changes. Done. Now, if we are doing something like aligning projects with library goals, I’d like the input of the entire staff. We will have a discussion. We will come to an “I can live with it” level of consensus and move forward. Done.

“How Come No One Asked Me?”

Finally, I heard this again this morning….but “I wasn’t asked about this first.” And I realized that this isn’t a lack of communication on the actual decision or plan. People wanted to be asked their opinion on something unrelated to their position (or tangential at best.) I entrust people with projects and decision making when it impacts their jobs directly, when I know they have the knowledge or skills necessary to implement a plan, or sometimes when they have consistently performed well and I know I can count on them. Or sometimes I ask people to be a part of a project when I know they can bring constructive criticism to the conversation. If you can answer your naysayers in the development of a project, that’s often helpful.

Getting Things Done

Not to rip off the title of a book, but I am here in this job to get things done. That means that there is no longer a “decision by consensus” and complete democracy over everything in this organization. I do not think that is the best way to run this particular organization. If there are things you don’t like, go to your boss (or your boss’s boss) and ask to discuss them. Don’t gossip. I know we all love to bitch at work, but it will get back to people. And then? You’re really not asked to participate.

Sour Grapes…or Fear

Often, the people complaining the loudest about “not knowing” or “not being asked” are having a bit of sour grapes. Maybe they used to be asked more for their opinion by the previous so-and-so. Maybe they are annoyed that someone is moving their cheese. Maybe the just like to be a Negative Nancy. Whatever the reason, some people at work are just cranky and they will complain either way. But sometimes, we complain about things like communication and “not being in the know” because we feel threatened in our positions. Maybe we think the boss doesn’t see our position as vital. Or, worse yet, maybe we kind of know it isn’t, but we’ve been OK with being idle for a while. If your negative attitude or complaining is about fear of change, then being in an organization that will constantly be changing for the next foreseeable future might not be the place for you.


You want to be more involved in the decision making process? Stay informed, make sure your criticisms are constructive, and be a team player. Remember that at the end of the day, the end users are our reason for existing. Are your decisions and emotions in line with that priority? I can honestly say that every decision I’ve made here and every project I’ve committed us to has been to make a better library for our users.

And if someone complains one more time about not knowing what is going on around here, I’m going to flip a table.


How Did We Get Here? The Rise and (Hopefully) Fall of Rockstar Librarians


I should start off by saying that my hope is that soon the era of rockstar librarians comes to an end. We brought them into this world and we’ll have to take them out.

I keep racking my brain about this week’s drama in librarianship. One librarian is suing two others. You know the story. I wish it hadn’t gotten to this point and I’m saddened that it has. But maybe it might just be that we can have some open dialogue as a profession and talk about what has happened over the last five or six years and how we got here. I’m writing this really free form and trying to get something out of my head and onto “paper” that’s bothering me. I mean absolutely no malice or offense towards any one.

I think this era of rockstar librarians has directly contributed to the current climate at conferences and the current legal case dominating our professional discourse. I want to try to frame the “rockstardom” without naming anyone in particular. You all know of a person that does a lot of speaking gigs, maybe who holds a lot of sway in conversation on social media, has maybe won awards or whatever. Sometimes they are also a bit of a jerk. In their minds, they’ve become better than others. They start to dominate all conversations, reject other opinions. They become a librarian rockstar. You might have someone in mind who fits this description. For the record, not all are men, in my opinion. How did we get here? I think there’s blame to go around and here are some of my initial thoughts:

  • Our vendors pay money for some people to give talks. Maybe that inflates their egos. Maybe they drop great talking points that get us excited about librarianship. Then another vendor hires them. More ego. I have personally heard “rockstars” bragging about having their rooms paid for at conference and giving talks and getting free dinners and drinks. Those perks shouldn’t mean you can be a jerk.
  • Fine. I think the Movers & Shakers may contribute to this. Please no offense to those who did not let it turn them into jerks. Ditto Emerging Leaders. Anytime you bestow an honor like this on someone in librarianship, there’s a chance it may make them a jerk. (Not all. I know.) But, I will admit to being at a social event at an ALA and hearing a new Emerging Leader (I think the first year or so) bragging about how he wasn’t really doing anything and getting a free conference and getting drunk. And I thought: so that’s worth my dues.
  • Social Media. There is power in thousands of followers. It creates a feeling of self-importance. (Yes, I realize I have them but they are not all librarians. Also, I used to act like a bit of a jerk a lot. I admit that. I’ve apologized. I’m not a jerk anymore and haven’t been for years and somehow they still stay. I’ve blogged about the evolution of my own changing social media use elsewhere.)

So, somehow, these things have helped create a generation of librarians who are extremely popular, both socially and professionally. Again, without pointing out anyone in particular, they are popular speakers and they are popular on social media and the social circuit during conference. Sometimes they are popular mostly just on the speaking front or the social front, but I’ve seen a lot of overlap. A lot of us attend these conferences, go to their talks, and then maybe some of us even hang out with them. So, in part, we’re feeding the beast really.

Some of us have wondered how certain individuals keep getting hired to give keynotes. All flash, no substance. Yet, it happens. Why? Because someone’s attending the talks.

I also really don’t want to turn this into a rant on what adults choose to do at conferences. I have not witnessed the plaintiff in the legal case sexually harass anyone. But, I did witness a different rockstar getting what I would call a little too cozy with a friend of mine, who was super enamored with this person due to their social media presence. That day, I stepped in and got her out of there because I knew she’d regret it. I never said another word about it. But, I think about it at every ALA.

So, librarians, what do we do now? I wish I had answers. I don’t. I mostly just want to have a conversation about the lack of civility and conversation and the aura of rockstar librarians and how it’s turning everything to shit. And then maybe figure out how to fix it.

*Please note: Not all popular librarians that give a lot of keynotes and win awards are jerks. I know that and you do too.

The Dreaded Staff Evaluations


Well, it’s a new semester! A new school year! A new beginning!

And so, I’ve committed myself to writing on this blog every week, usually on Fridays. Today, you get a Thursday because I will be OUT OF TOWN tomorrow. Woooooo.

I’m planning on writing on a lot of topics this fall including building a relationship with a new boss, hiring decisions, avoiding burnout, going into library management, re-envisioning positions after retirement, emotional intelligence in management, and just whatever else I feel like writing about in terms of librarianship.

Right now, I’m working on library-wide staff evaluations. We do these before the new academic year starts here. I’ve done these on all kinds of calendar cycles in previous positions. Being that this is my third year here, I’m trying to be much more purposeful and hands on in the way we do things and really thinking deeply about what we say and do and what we put down on paper, which brings us to staff evaluations. This year, I poured over each one in my library (not just for my direct reports) and made suggestions, corrections, and, for a few, flat out rejected the statements and ratings and asked for rewrites.

These are crucial and important documents in almost every workplace. They can be used to calculate raises. They can be used to create a paper trail on problem employees. They should be used to state yearly or long term goals. But, I’ve also seen them used (maybe especially in the non-profit sector) as a reward mechanism, especially during times of low if any raises and in positions of little to no growth. So, I’m here to tell you to stop doing that and also stop expecting it.

Over-inflating evaluation ratings can only last so long and go so far. If you, or I, as a supervisor consistently tell all of our employees that they are excellent in every way in every category, then they’ve reached the ceiling. They have nowhere to improve. Coming into work, doing your job and doing it well, is an average score or a “meets expectations,” depending on your campuses language. I expect that of everyone. It’s what you do that’s truly above and beyond the basic job that gets you the excellent, 5, or whatever rating you use.

And let’s face it. Most people hate to have the evaluation meeting. Most people get nervous about it, whether you’re the giver or receiver of the evaluation and even when you know you’re doing a good job. I have wonderful staff and these meetings make me nervous. I doubt that ever stops. (Just like I am always nervous the first day of class. Still.)

We often really like our employees. Sometimes they become friends and feel like family. But, giving them an inaccurate review does not help anyone, even if it makes everyone feel better. So, the next time you have to write staff evaluations, I’m going to suggest a few steps to avoid over-inflating this important document.

  1. Go back to the job description. Make sure it’s accurate. Does this person come to work and do all of these things? Then, they are great and doing a good job. (Just average.)
  2. Are there certain areas in which they excel? Call them out on those pieces.
  3. Even if they are excelling, are there things they can do to push themselves over the next year?

Also, if you have not already, everyone in your workplace who writes evaluations should sit down and talk about what different ratings mean to you in order to try to standardize the ratings across departments. It is my job as the director to inform staff when adjustments have to be made, but I can see the disparity first hand in how different supervisors rate and describe work. Just like we norm rubrics, we need to norm evaluation ratings. (And we are totally doing this next year.)

I think the best advice I got in writing evaluations came from a friend in HR. She told me to make the process collaborative. So, have the employee send you their highlights for the year first or even fill out the form themselves and identify goals for the next year before you write the evaluation. Also, if there is space for employee comments, encourage your staff to make some. Did they run into specific obstacles in their jobs this year? Do they have specific projects they wanted noted on their evaluations? Appropriate acknowledgement is important.

In terms of writing goals, I also have my employees note how they will measure their success.  Our form allows for that, but not everyone fills it out across campus. We fill our forms out correctly and fully in the library because that’s what we do. :) I also encourage them to keep it to three goals. Three is manageable.

Now, even I do not get an “E” rating in every category. I know, this is shocking. And I am very hard on myself in my own pre-evaluation analysis. (Probably also shocking.) But, doing just average in some areas gives me something to strive for and I’m OK with that. So, you should learn to be too.

Well, that’s all for now. Happy fall semester!



What the Boss Should Give a New Librarian (A newish librarian’s perspective)


Editor’s note: I asked after Midwinter for people who wanted to guest post on the blog and Catherine volunteered! It turns out her post is even more timely now as she will be starting a new job soon. Yay! So, congratulate her on that too when you get a chance (@ms_codson). If you’ve got a topic that you’re interesting in writing about (burning issues in librarianship, management, stuff like that, let me know!) I really love the message that Catherine is sending in her piece her and I think you will too! Happy reading!


I’m a Millennial librarian, and a relatively new one, having just passed my three-year mark in a professional position. At this point in my career, I am starting to think about management opportunities in my own future, and as such, I’ve been reflecting on what worked, what didn’t, and what else I wanted or needed from managers in my first position.

By the time you reach your first professional position, you ideally have some general knowledge about how a library works. How to answer a reference question, how to work on teams, how to balance a crowd of patrons in front of you — between library school and internships/practicums/paraprofessional work, these are your responsibility. Your boss should not need to teach you how to work. What a good boss should give you, however, is a collection of maps.

First, a physical map. Each library building is different, and knowing where the bathrooms are is key. This was the first question I was asked at the reference desk as an intern, and I didn’t know the answer. (It’s a trick question of sorts — there isn’t one on our first floor!) Help your newbies find where they need to be, as well as where visitors may wish to go.

Next, a virtual map. What does your library do that they may not have learned elsewhere? Even if we (the new hire) are amazing librarians, some things are specific to a particular organization. Nothing can replace years of experience in the building, but the more you can document and share your policies and procedures, the easier it will be for new librarians to jump on board. This includes people, too. Use your knowledge of interpersonal relationships to help newbies navigate the library and get things done as efficiently as possible. Someone is notoriously bad at email? Point that out. If you have a good strategy for getting a meeting hijacker to back off, share that, too. Set new hires up for success.

Directions to the nearest committees and working groups. I entered my first professional position straight from an internship, and it never occurred to me to ask for these assignments. Other new hires were quickly picked up, but I slipped through the cracks and didn’t join any committees at the library- or university-level until almost a year later! Identify opportunities for your new hires to get immersed in current library projects as they gain their footing and find their additional teams.

And finally, a (metaphoric) kiss and a shove out the door. You hired us, and you have set us up for success. Push us past our comfort zones and into projects where you know we can add our expertise. Especially for the first new hire in a while, it’s easy to fall into the “new person” trap. At some point, it’s time to jump and do the work. As long as we have a net.


Catherine Odson will soon be a tech guide with Anythink Libraries in Adams County, CO. She previously worked in educational technology at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries and earned her MS(LIS) from Drexel University in 2011.

Oversharing and Whining: Do These Things Make You a Bad Job Candidate?


I read a librarian’s blog post this morning that posed an interesting dilemma. In essence, the author felt there are not enough networking events for non-drinkers at library conferences. While I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that point, my first response, and my instinct, was “OK, I get what you’re saying (though I think this is a problem in probably every profession), so now do something about it.” Make a Facebook group, create a Twitter, reach out to others who probably also feel this is an awkward problem in our profession and want to find ways to work around it.

Do something.

This got me into several Monday morning librarian conversations in the back-channel, as Mondays sometimes do. (Ok, that is likely to happen almost every day.) Social media, blogs, and the Internet seem to become havens for people to just bitch and complain. Rinse. Repeat. I feel like that is especially true in my profession, but maybe that’s just because I’m exposed to a larger number of librarians in social media. I get that. I’ve been there. Then, a friend asked me if being the oversharer on the Internet makes someone a bad job candidate in my eyes, and I thought about it.

Here’s my thoughts:

I wouldn’t necessarily think someone who overshares (and even whines) a lot about their job/profession is not a good worker, person, or librarian, in general. But, I would be concerned if it was a constant pattern. For example, if you’ve whined about your horrible working conditions at Library A and then you make a change and get a new job (yay, change!) and then you’re back whining about Library B? Maybe the problem is you. Maybe.

What do you do about the issues you raise? Do you get the librarians of the Internet foaming at the mouth and incite some real change? Do you just put your say out there and then drop it and move on? Are you a solutions person or just a constant bitcher?

Also, we all need to vent and share our thoughts. It’s not healthy to keep it all in. And I totally get that social media is the easy way to do that now. We find our like people, they get us, we bitch together. But here’s my dilemma and maybe I need to think about this more and write again sometime. Oversharing on the Internet is not as much a problem to me as my perception of a growing sense of entitlement in the library profession. Am I the only one seeing this and feeling it?

It’s possible.

I’ve never been one to think that I can just drop a thought out there and that the universe will make it so because it’s my right for it to exist that way. If I did, I’d be demanding out loud that all meetings everywhere have a wine bar available. (I kid. )

Maybe we need is a Librarian’s Bill of Rights. What *are* we professionally entitled to across the board? And then, what are the things that would make us more productive, better colleagues, and responsive to our profession in a positive, healthy way? We could make those the agenda items that we want to work on the institute change. (I’m kidding. That sounds dreadfully awful. Maybe we just need to be adults.)

So, in a nutshell, whining and oversharing do not make you a bad anything, but it could paint a picture of you as the Whiny Negative Naysayer of LibraryLand and nobody wants that person around. What you do with your frustrations and the results you can produce or ideas you bring to the table are the things you should be oversharing.

This may all be my own ramblings and not make sense whatsoever. But, whatever, it’s Monday and it’s *my* blog. I can overshare my thoughts if I want to.


The blog post that sparked my thinking today can be found here: http://satifice.com/2014/03/10/been-thinking-about-network-and-a-culture-of-drinking/ (Again, I don’t disagree with this issue at all. I’d love to hear solutions and ways to work towards making more alternative events available if this is really an issue librarians want to be passionate about.)


Talking to Your Boss…


Welp, it’s nearly the end of February and I said I was going to blog every Friday this year. NO TIME LIKE NOW TO START!

I’m going to take my cues for my first few blog posts from the panel I sat on at ALA Midwinter which was supposed to be about “getting things done,” but I think really turned into more of an honest Q&A for newer librarians and maybe a little bit of therapy for us all. (Maybe the mimosas helped. I’m not sure. I was coming down with the flu.)

Anyway, I was struck by how many librarians present (and most had three years or less experience as I recall) asked some sort of variation on “how do I ask my boss so and so?” or “how do I go and talk to this person?” So, here we are with my advice on how to talk to your boss.

First, if you need to talk to your boss, talk to your boss. Yes, it’s that simple. We are all on the same team and these are libraries, not places where anyone is yelling (I hope!).

Personally, I have an open door policy. If someone comes in and I am doing something, I will give them a minute. If I’m on a deadline, I will say, “sure, I have a few minutes, but I need to finish this today, so if it’s longer than fifteen minutes or so, let’s schedule something.” But, what if your boss is less flexible? Here are my suggestions:

  • Shoot an email and ask for fifteen minutes. Be succinct. Tell him or her what your problem is and bring SOLUTIONS with you. 
  • If the problem is longer or more involved, start with an introduction to the issue, offer to schedule something longer for sometime soon.
  • Don’t put anyone on the spot on something that needs thinking over.

Follow-up with an email so that you both have a record of the problem, plan, future meeting, solution. I am the first to admit that I forget a lot of stuff if I don’t have a written/electronic record somewhere. My desk is littered with sticky notes.

Also, sometimes an email (or even pick up the phone), is a good way to get your boss’s attention and ask, “hey, can I see you about something? It has to do with such and such.” None of us like to be surprised.

If you don’t bring a solution with you, be prepared to have the dead elk handed back to you. I’m not here to take the monkeys off of anyone’s back. I’m here to figure out where else we can put the monkeys. But if it’s your problem, it’s your problem.

Now, if you’re trying to troubleshoot something that is politically sticky (I have to try this project because YOU, dear boss person, want me to), then tread carefully, but note your concerns and your willingness to still try. All of us boss people are not totally unreasonable, but sometimes we can shed light on something…like WHY it would be good if we did this because it would build a lot of good will with so and so.

In the end, if you’re in a working environment where you really are that petrified to talk to your boss, my advice is really that you need a new job (we’ll blog that next week). And yes, I realize that might be easier said than done.

In Defense of Attending ALA


Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of “I don’t go to ALA because it’s not worth it” sort of “stuff” online and I have been thinking a lot about writing a post about librarians and continuing education/conferences/money, so here’s what I dumped out of my brain onto the blog.

First, if *I* am the one defending attendance at a conference, we’ve probably all gone too far in our bashing because I will honestly question how much I have learned at an ALA in the last few years (but that’s my fault. I will get to that.)

This morning I read a post in Library Journal that gave some good reasons to go to ALA, but some rather disturbing comments about *not* going. This was what prompted me to blog my thoughts on the matter. I’m not going to link you all to it. You’re librarians. You’ll find it if you want. Without further ado, the reasons you should attend ALA:

  • Networking. Yes, I think this is the most important. This is an extremely small profession and if you ever want to move up, collaborate across institutions, really get to know people, you need to network. I began networking and attending ALA as a shiny, new, baby librarian and some of my best friends in life were the ones I met at that first ALA committee meeting at my very first ALA. We are all big shots now, but we stay in touch. (I am mostly kidding.)

  • Learning. We are in a rapidly changing profession and learning should be something we all do all of the time. Who to learn best from? Your peers. Yes, some people put on great programs and have financial resources to do things that I will never be able to do, but what else can I take away from their presentation? The first few ALA and ACRL conferences I went to were amazing! I found my people!
  • Job Hunting. I interviewed once at an ALA. It was a decent experience. I didn’t want the job, in the end, but I think if you’re on the market, it’s worth a shot.
  • Committee work. Again, if I am defending this, we’ve got problems, librarians. I spent a good chunk of my first ten years in librarianship serving on committees. You know what I learned? First, I learned a lot about group dynamics and how bureaucracies work, but I also learned a lot from other people who knew more than me, were better organized, came to the committee with different experiences to share, and I did a lot more networking. True story, I got my last job because I served on a committee with someone and she thought I would be a good manager. Does ALA have a lot of committees? Yes. Do some people do more work than others? Yes, welcome to life. But, like most things, you get out of it what you put into it. Besides, committee work is what runs our organization. If you don’t want to be a part of it, don’t bitch either.

Now, that all being said, let’s talk about funding. I have a pretty good CV with presentations and conferences all over it and I had about half of those paid for. The other half? I paid for myself. I didn’t always have a kick-ass shoe collection. I had to make choices. I’m not saying you should go into major debt to go to conferences and network. But, I think it’s about time we seriously start talking about investing in ourselves and our careers in this profession. I know a lot of teaching faculty who barely have one research trip paid for before they earn tenure. But, they go anyway. Because their jobs and their passion depends upon it. Yet, what I hear from librarians (often) is, “well, my library won’t pay for me to go.” I know we’re not the highest paid profession, but I would suggest if things are close enough to you, or in state, or if you can get a presentation accepted, to pay out of pocket for some of your professional development. One day, those presentations or conference attendances might be what separates you from someone else in an applicant pool.

So, there’s my two cents. If you’re going to Midwinter, maybe I will see you and we can have wine! If not, try not to be disparaging to those of us who are going, or maybe have to go, and try not to assume it’s not worth our time and we don’t bring back good stuff.

A Library From the Ground Up


So, I blame @RachelMFleming for this entire blog post. She asked me on the Twitter one day what kind of people I would hire to work in a library, if not librarians. Now, I am not saying there would not be any librarians at all, but I am saying, if I could start from scratch, this is what I would look for.

To start, I want everyone to have a positive attitude or at least come to work thinking “what can I do today to like my job?” because when you’re the Negative Nancy all the time, you’re just going to impede everyone’s progress. I want people in every position who are innovative, thinking outside of the box, and figuring out how to make it happen. I want dreamers. I want people who see something we put together that turns out well and says, Fantastic! What’s next? And through everything we do, I want a culture of assessment and examining what works, what does not, and thinking about why and how to constantly get feedback.

I want people who are independent workers, self-starters and can deal with a changing environment.

Also, I work in a college library. So, this really applies to academics. 

More specifically, sort of.

1. Teachers. People who could work with faculty and students and teach them the concepts of information literacy, with the most important element being the evaluation of information. This is the most important life skill we need to be imparting on our students. And the right teaching people could help faculty integrate those concepts into courses, majors, and beyond.

2. Technology people. Know what we need, buy it, make it work, maintain weird library stuff (like the LMS).

2. A spreadsheet/numbers analysis guru or two. Someone who could harness all of the data we have and make it pretty and help tell a story.

3. Data management/authority control. Right, a cataloger.

4. People who can work with the old stuff we have and make it digital. I’d like someone with the knowledge and appreciation in this area, who also wants to teach and work on digital projects.

5. People who like order and can be independent workers to do all of the pieces of ordering, keeping the books, watching spending, finding new and better ways to spend our money.

6. Dreamers. I would want people who could help me keep thinking bigger and better. These are the people watching the trends and knowing what we should be looking at/investing our time in.

7. Marketing. Not to market specific library resources, but to make the presentation of our stuff look good and to know how to get the message out.

8. Learning and information technologies. What are the new cool things? Who wants to try them out and should we invest money in them. Would also be good to run the website and things like social media because someone knowledgeable needs to.

9. A space planner. I would love to have someone walking around looking at how things get used, making some analysis, and helping us utilize space better.

10. Collections guru. This person would handle all of the decisions and negotiating and making sure it is right and good and analyzed.

11. Services coordinator. A person to figure out desk staffing, services, and keep a constant analysis of what’s working.

12. Fantastic, customer service oriented people at service points.

13. A kick-ass assistant. Cherry on the cake.

PS. Maybe also a Nutritionist. (I KID.)

Are you learning these things in library school, maybe? Fantastic. If you didn’t? Figure out how to get them.

You asked, Rachel. So, I answered :)

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