Friday, January 25, 2013

How Many Librarians Can I Be? Let Me Count the Ways...

As I was sitting in one of my classes this week (fully engaged of course), hearing about yet another cool library job, I thought about how many times I've said or thought, "That looks like such a cool job/ environment/set of materials or patrons, I think I want to be a ________ librarian.  After a year into this and some different job experiences, I have found out what I am suited to and what I am not.  However, I know many library students go through this.  You stand up at orientation and declare that all you've ever wanted to be is a children's/teen and YA/medical/art librarian.  Yet by midterm, you're signing up for the school librarian conference.  I thought I'd list the areas of librarianship that have turned my head over the past year.  I'm sure many library students and librarians can relate to this.

1.  Public Library System Director - I LOVE the public library.  I figure, hey, I've run businesses, I could do this too. In every city I've lived in, I've signed a lease and then immediately taken it to the nearest library branch to prove residency so that I can get a card.  The public library means so much to me.  When I was a little girl, my father used to take my brother and I to the big downtown library in every Saturday and let me get whatever book I wanted, even if it was an adult book.  By the way Dad, thanks for being so liberal as to turn a blind eye when Shannan Hicks, age 11, started checking out Jackie Collins books.  Hey, it's all contributing to my literacy, right???  When I was older and job hunting, the library was my office, a place to get out of the house and feel productive.  The library welcomes everyone without judgment.  I am always going to be an active and avid patron.  A public library director remains a major mentor to me today (Thanks Dr. Ron Heezen).  I think that they are awesome people who do a tough job with little thanks.  I learned exactly how hard public librarians work after working a summer as a circ clerk.  It's no picnic.  But our communities are nothing without the public library.

2.  School Librarian - I promised myself that I would be open and explore every part of librarianship.  When the director of our program sent out a message that she would reimburse for attendance at LASL (Louisiana Association of School Librarians) last year, I decided to go, largely because it was close to home for me at the time.  I met so many awesome school librarians and realized that the work they did was important, different every day and really touched lives.  I thought I had found my calling.  I immediately scheduled times to shadow librarians at an elementary, middle and high school.  Thank you so much to Mrs. (soon to be Dr.) Gail Griffin, Ms. Sandra Smallwood, Dr. Judy Nicholas and Ms. Lorna Crosswhite.  I still think that this is an awesome way to serve as a librarian.  Plus, you are mistress/master of all that you survey.

3.  Academic Librarian - I love being on a college campus.  There is something about helping students to access what they need that really does it for me.  LSU has some amazing, smart librarians who do a little bit of everything, including outreach. It's just astounding.

4.  Indexer - I was reading an awesome book by Priscilla Shontz and Richard Murray - "A Day in the Life: Career Options in Library and Information Science."  The chapter on indexing sounded so interesting and creative.  Basically, indexers created indexes in all sorts of books.  The American Society of Indexers is a great resource for this area of the information profession.  I am still looking at getting this certification as something to do on the side.

5.  Cataloger - I have literally never met a cataloger that I did not immediately love.  My friend Teresa, Head of Cataloging at the Bossier Public Library, schooled me about what catalogers do.  Basically, without catalogers, nobody would be able to find anything in the library.  It would be a literal Tower of Babel.  Linda Smith Griffin supervised me in a service project at LSU's Middleton Library.  She is heavily involved in the changeover from AACR2 to RDA (this will be another post). I am telling you, I am overcome by the humility and skill set of these folks who wield immense power.  I work with Susan Morrison, law catalog librarian extraordinaire and she is teaching me the finer points of cataloging materials in a library that is at once academic, special and public.

6.  Acquisition Librarian - Well, they get to buy books all day.   How much more could you want????

7.  Teen Librarian - If you talk to any teen librarian, including my friend LaVette Fuller at Shreve Memorial, you will want to be a teen librarian too.  This lasted just until I realized that it would mean that I would have to actually deal with teenagers.  God love these people.

8.  Embedded Librarian - This sounds so James Bond.  I learned about this type of librarian in my Special Libraries class first semester.  It is a librarian that works in a business as part of the project team.  This librarian provides all the information needs for that team.  This is usually seen in large business units that are broken up into teams.

9.  Outreach Librarian - I have the type of personality that cannot be kept in a cubicle.  I need to be out, and amongst the masses, spreading my vocation throughout the land.  Okay, maybe a little dramatic, but it shows you what I like about this type of librarian, who goes into the community, whether the community at large, or the community of their school, business, etc, to educate and "administer" librarianship wherever needed.

10.  Law Librarian - Clearly, because of my background, this is a fit for me.  I know the materials, I've been a law student, I am a lawyer and so things like reference are easy to me.  I really love the teaching and publishing aspect of law librarianship.  I happen to work with some smart, generous and really cool law librarians who are teaching me and encouraging me, so I really love this type of work.

So there you have it.  Librarianship is not just a lady in a bun shushing people.  Librarians are awesome and I am happy to be training in the profession.  You can go all over the world and do all kinds of things in librarianship.  I hope this has been an eye-opener for folks who had no idea why I am in library school;-)

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