I found library school to be surprising in a lot of ways.
- It wasn’t nearly as difficult as I’d hoped it would be. In fact, I had to work much harder as an undergraduate than as a graduate student.
- There was very little practical application of our subject matter. For instance, I heard a great deal about Dublin Core Metadata standards, but never was given the opportunity to work with them.
- There was practically no formal writing.
- It was more like a vocational-technical degree, than an academic degree.
- Most classmates didn’t work in a library.
- Most classmates had never worked in a library.
- Most classmates expressed an intransigence in terms of relocating to find work.
I more or less skated through on my years of experience as much as my intelligence. To date, I have right at eleven years of contiguous work in libraries. It started with my being hired as a student assistant at Webster University’s Emerson Library, that segued into my time as a clerk shelving books for St. Louis County Library, which helped pay the bills until I got hired at UMSL’s Thomas Jefferson Library.
That’s been my life for more than a decade. I’ve been in libraries longer than I’ve been romantically involved with my wife, and only public schooling holds a longer track record for my consistent association. Even that will soon be lapped by my career choice.
I graduated with ten years’ experience; more than nearly anyone who ever graduates with a Master’s degree in library or information science. I manage a small unit for the a University of Missouri library. I hire, train, and supervise student workers. I cross-train colleagues, both library assistants and librarians. I have the flexibility to move to many areas of the country. I attend conferences. I have presented at a conference, and seek topics on which to present on in the future. I am a member of several professional organizations, including RUSA: STARS in which I am a member their ILL Committee. I network with other librarians. And now, I’m blogging, and trying to build an audience, and trying to offer a real benefit to the profession of which I am an ambitious member.
And I can’t get a job.
But nobody wants to read me whining about how hard it is to find that first professional position.
The fact is that it’s hard for everyone trying to get a library job, especially if your are fresh out of library school. I’ve heard rumors that 2-3 years of applying before sticking your first profession is common. A quick Google search didn’t give me any solid numbers to quote, however.
Maybe it’s my arrogance talking, but I always thought that a person in my position would spend a year, maximum, before getting their first job. I mean, look at my classmates with no experience who just seemed to think that working in a library was a good idea. Surely, I’d get one before them! Right?
Well, fourteen months later, I’ve come crashing down to Earth. It’s not that I’ve not come close. I’ve been on five in-person interviews at the University of Cincinnati (a disaster!), Georgia Southern University (missed it by that much!), the MOBIUS consortium (over my head), Missouri University of Science and Technology (also, over my head), and University of Texas – San Antonio (still under consideration!). But I’ve yet to get anyone to bite on me.
A lot of people would probably tell you that five in-person interviews in approximately a year is a great success rate. And they’d be correct. Every time I go to one of these I get practice for the next one. I also hone my schmoozing skills.
The idea of honing my schmoozing skills feels like a segue into another post, so I’m going to close out here and write about networking, etc. in my next post.
Yes, I’m frustrated in my job search, and I was arrogant in my estimation of my impressive experience. But there is always hope. I keep applying for jobs and improving my cover letters and CV’s. Some day I’m going get all the pieces to fit together and I’m going to move on with my life into something bigger and better. I’m struggling now, but I’m climbing up the right path. And that’s where I’m at.
Since initially publishing this post I learned that I’m no longer under consideration for the UTSA position, but I have been contacted about two more 1st interviews. Yay! One at the University of New Mexico — Albuquerque, and the other ad Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Hope springs eternal!