Last year Minneapolis spoken word artist Guante posted his list of Six Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Getting Started as an Artist, and Minnesota Public Radio has taken the theme to several other career choices, like teachers, doctors, and journalism. Now that I am over ten years into my career, I have a few ideas of things that I wish I’d known when I was a new librarian. Here goes:
- Most people have no idea what librarians do or why they matter. You will just have to get used to people saying different versions of “You need a Master’s degree to check out books?!” Be ready to advocate for yourself politely.
- The library field draws book people, but it is a people job. Learn to connect.
- It’s all about change. The Internet didn’t kill libraries. Ebooks aren’t going to do it either. They just change things. Be an early adopter when you can.
- Education matters, but experience is crucial. Most people pursuing library science degrees have years of experience working as paraprofessionals in libraries behind them already. Volunteer, if you have to, but get experience in a library before you graduate.
- The field is hugely varied. People bring different backgrounds, skills, and interests to librarianship. Get to know your colleagues, and learn from them when you can.
- Accept help when you need it, even if it’s from a vendor. This is perhaps a somewhat self-serving comment since I currently work as a staff librarian at a library vendor, but when I was a public librarian I really didn’t know what kind of tools and support were available from book companies. These services are often free, so take advantage of them. We want to help. :)
Are you a librarian? What would you add?