A Librarian Sans Library: Part 1

*Author’s note: This is the first of a new series that will be published on this blog, chronicling my experiences as a continued self-identified librarian working outside of libraries*


In the last 6 months or so there’s been a number of blog posts, articles, etc. about librarians not working in or leaving libraries to work in other industries or fields.

For more on that topic read:

Bobbi Newman’s: Once A Librarian, Always A Librarian (YES! Thank you!)

Kate’s Hey Libraries: It’s Not Me, It’s You (Multiple Parts)

Or, on an information professional with a masters in library and information science, moving back closer to libraries:

Andromeda Yelton’s: What I’ve Been Up To.

This discussion came at a good time for me – I was job-hunting in a limited geographic region because my husband was offered a great professional opportunity. [Moving for a spouse/partner is an entirely different blog post]

I’d worked in my first libraryland job for about 3 years and wanted to stay in libraries if possible, but knew that might be difficult given the area we were moving to and the job market. I knew I’d need to at least be smart about other professional opportunities I’d consider.

As Naomi at I Need A Library Job recently tweeted:

INALJ Outside the Norm

My husband and dog moved to his new job in May, which spurred me to really expand my employment considerations. However, I wanted to be smart about my job search. I’ve read literature posturing that either your first or your second professional job will dramatically impact the path of your career. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but knew I only wanted to apply for jobs that I would 1) enjoy doing and 2) made sense with my ultimate goal of working in academic libraries. Taking this into consideration I looked around and  applied for jobs in the publishing field working with academic electronic resources… and then saw a position at a community college for a grant writer. That seemed right up my alley – intensive focus on research and writing – two of the reasons I went to grad school for libraries in the first place!

Well my new boss thinks it’s right up a librarian’s alley too. In the 3 weeks since I’ve started my job her catch-phrase is: “It’s lots of research, but you’ve got that covered, you’re a librarian.”

My first reactions to my professional life outside of the library sphere?

Week 1:

Observation 1: The first time someone introduced me and said “she used to be a librarian” hurt my heart. But I am determined that Once A Librarian, Always A Librarian (a la Bobbi Newman). And one day, you’ll take me back, right libraryland?

Observation 2: The HR person I met with used to be a librarian. She was HR — then worked in libraries for about 15 years — then returned to HR for the hours and because she loves the work. She has confidence I will do well in my new role – “Librarians can do anything!”

Week 2:

Observation 1: Working on my first grant! Getting to put my research and writing skills at work feels good.

Observation 2: The process of working on a grant for someone else’s project is a lot like a really in-depth, extended reference interview – lots of open questions about the goals of the project (research), types of resources needed, etc.

Week 3:

Observation 1: I do miss working directly with students. Hopefully my goal of volunteering in my new public library (once I get my life a little more in order) will fill this void.

Observation 2: My boss had me register for a national resource development conference in November! The fact that she is so supportive and really wants me to get trained in this new position is a wonderful feeling – my previous place of work was not very enthusiastic about my professional development desires. I always thought my first national conference would be ALA or ACRL but I’m very excited about this chance and there are some great sessions I am really looking forward to attending.


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