My Education: BFA, Writing, Literature and Publishing, Emerson College MLS (Master of Library Science), University of Maryland
My Prior Experience: I worked for a government contractor to the EPA dealing with confidential business records. My employer offered tuition reimbursement for library programs. I took another job with them in the NASA archives, then I switched to a trade association in their information center while I finished my masters degree.
My Company: I work for an academic library at a small four-year college.
Job/Career Overview: Working in a small library means you wear many hats and perform many different types of duties. I take a turn at the circulation desk and check books in and out. I also help students with their research, showing them how to find articles in our online databases and books in our collection. I also answer "reference" questions which can encompass anything from a student looking for his classroom number to questions about library hours to help finding a particular source.
At other times, I am responsible for compiling statistics about patron use for each semester. We count the number of hours we are open, the number of patrons we've served and provide charts and stats on the busiest times of day, busiest days of week, number of patrons during extended evening hours and provide comparison data to previous years.
I am also the system person and I maintain the library website pages, adding and editing content as needed. I also am responsible for our cataloging and administrative system and I perform duties such as updating patron information at the beginning of each semester, changing due date parameters at the end of the semester, fixing any glitches with item records or barcodes and providing training and documentation to all staff.
In addition to these duties I also provide evening instruction on how to use library resources to undergraduate classes.
More Insights: I really like the variety and flexibility of my job. I like working with students and I enjoy teaching, something I said I never wanted to do!
I rate this career 8 out of 10.
The best part of the job is the variety, the opportunity to try different roles and figure out what tasks you prefer. Standing up in front of a group of students and providing instruction really helped me figure out if I liked teaching or not.
The worst parts of the job are constantly having to find ways to demonstrate the library's value (i.e. budget impacts) and performing repetitive tasks such as inventorying the collection and checking for mis-shelved books.
There are many different types of libraries and many different tasks that librarians perform. A big university library is very different from a small academic library and an academic librarian's job is much different than a public librarian's.
Try to get experience in all different aspects through internships and work-study programs to determine what kind of library might be best for you.
In addition, take course work in all different areas: cataloging, reference, collection development, budgeting, providing instruction and anything involving technology. These are skills that you will need no matter what type of library you work for.