I Got the Shock of My Life Today

by Elizabeth on March 23, 2010 · 8 comments

in Adventures, librarianship

This morning started off like any typical Tuesday for me. I got up, did a few household chores, and then settled in to check my email and read my blogs. I was just about through when I noticed a new post had come in within the last few minutes. I clicked it and almost fell out of my chair. There on the ACRLog, the blog run by the Association of College and Research Libraries, was yours truly. Before I go any further why don’t you hop on over and read the post for yourself.

You done? Good.

Oh, by the way, if you wondered hear via ACRLog, welcome! I’m so glad you took a few minutes to visit my humble blog. If you would like to know how I became an unemployed librarian, you can read that here.

I commented a few weeks ago on an ACRLog post about things that we might like to read about in the future. I expressed my interest in reading about job hunting tips from academic librarians who have been in the same place I am now (unemployed 🙂 ) and more information/real-life stories on what it is like to be an academic librarian right now. I never dreamed that this would spark StevenB to write a whole post about my blog. (I’m still trying to get my breath here, so bear with me.) I would like to say thanks to Steven for thinking that what I had to say was relevant and worth writing about and I wanted to use this opportunity to address some the points brought up in the post.

  1. The name of my blog. I came up with the name of my blog because I am an unemployed librarian. The name of my blog does not define what this blog is all about. This blog is not just about being a librarian or being unemployed. This blog is an assemblage of lots of things I’m interested, like frugality, menu-planning, budgeting, and getting my food waste under control just to name a few. I do try to write things about librarianship or issues in the library world at least once a week, but this blog isn’t, and never will be, totally about librarianship. All of this said, however, I understand where Steven is coming from. If I’m going to title my blog The Adventures of an Unemployed Librarian, I should expect people to think it’s mostly about librarianship (or being unemployed). I realize that if I put this blog on my resume (which I do) or in emails to potential employers (which I also do), they may not be as impressed to see such a limited number of posts on my field. Therefore, I do think that I need to devote more time (maybe another post a week?) to something dealing with books, libraries, or librarians. I don’t plan on changing the title of this blog until I get a job because it obviously is eye-catching enough to spark this post, plus I like it. 🙂
  2. Gaining Library Experience. Having job experience is a huge part of getting a permanent full-time job, especially in the library world where many skills just cannot be taught in the classroom. I do have some experience; I completed a semester-long internship at the science and engineering library on my school’s campus and I worked part-time for a year at a communications library. I learned some wonderful things in these two jobs, but unfortunately, they were student positions, which to some employers, doesn’t equal real library experience. Right now I work two to three days a week as a library assistant in a medical library at a local hospital. The library is moving and I was hired on to assist with the weeding, reorganization, and eventual moving of the library. It isn’t great, but it’s something. The woman who hired me is an excellent contact, so I’m hoping that will help me out in the long run.
  3. Making contacts/networking. I’m terrible at this. Absolutely terrible. I meet lots of people, but fail to follow up or if I do, it’s only one or two emails. It’s something I really need to work on. My mother, always trying to be helpful, has provided me with a number of contacts locally and mostly I haven’t done anything about it. This needs to change. It just took someone else to say it (or blog about it). Even if it doesn’t lead to a job, it’s still good to have people that know you and are willing to talk to you. This leads right into number four…
  4. Meeting with other academic librarians. Like I said, I’m really great about meeting people and then not doing anything about it. I think this is because I feel awkward asking people for help or advice, so I just avoid this situation. I’ve been unemployed for three months, so even I can see that I can’t really make my situation any worse just by talking to people.
    I’m going to my state’s library conference next month as a volunteer and I plan to go armed with business cards and goals for meeting people. Again, it may not lead to a job, but it will probably make me feel better. I also know a few of the younger librarians at UA (where I went to library school) who would be willing to go to lunch or grab some coffee if I asked. I just have to put forth the effort and do it. Which is the hard part. Sigh.
I’ve been waiting to post this because I wanted to see the sort of feedback Steven’s post got. It’s a mixture of opinions and suggestions from leaving the field (which I am considering) to taking any library-related job to just persevering and being tenacious in my job hunt. It’s definitely a lot to think about but I’m thinking there are some things I can do. I know some people in the book world (and I love books) so I’m going to get in touch with them. I wouldn’t mind working at a bookstore as long as it wasn’t part time, and working in the corporate book world would be awesome. I’m going to use what little contacts I have to start building a network and going to work on not being afraid to ask for help. I’m a common patron at my local public library and even though I don’t want to be in public librarianship, it’s a good idea to stop by and introduce myself as a recent LIS grad. Maybe I can at least volunteer there. I’m also going to keep sending out applications. 
But what I really want is to hear more advice. Send me an email or leave me a comment. Do you have any suggestions? Any contacts? Know of a job I might not know of? I’m asking for any kind of help you could possibly give me!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rosanne E. March 23, 2010 at 8:47 pm

I'm so glad to hear that someone else is as unnerved and nervous about networking as I am.


2 Allison March 23, 2010 at 10:09 pm

I'm in the same boat as you: passionate about becoming an academic librarian, but frustrated by not being one yet. I have an academic librarian mentor at a local university who lets me do reference hours with her (we met at a conference so have those business cards handy!). As time goes on I’m hoping to co-write an article or co-present with her to help fill out my resume. Another idea I’ve gotten is to volunteer on local library organization’s committees. I hate networking too so I’m hoping this will help force me into it. I’ve also come across the concept of leadership institutes recently and have even found a few for new grads/non-librarians that I’m planning on looking into. It can’t hurt right? Good luck to both of us!


3 Lisa March 23, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I am so glad I found out about your blog from the ACRL post today! I'm in the exact same position as you: I'm a soon-to-be-graduating MLIS student. I also want to be an academic librarian, though I lean more towards the smaller colleges, and have one foot in the law library world as well.

Life has been very very discouraging lately. I've applied to numerous positions, but have gotten no interviews. We've been told each job posting is receiving 50+ applications. I find it hard to watch some of my fellow students get interviews (and on occasion jobs). I've already done the whole 'move away for a job' thing (I used to teach school in England) so I really want to stay around my home town. My student library positions are almost finished, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I love working in libraries, so it pains me to think I wont get to because the job situation is so terrible (I should probably mention I'm located in Canada, but there's not that many jobs up here either).

I also have a blog (which is less library focused than this one) and I worry about how it will affect my job prospects. However, I believe that maintaining a personal blog highlights my other interests and proves I am a well rounded person with good communication skills. I have thought a lot about my blog and it's place in my career (and if I should post more about library stuff, or if I should delete it – and don't even get me started on twitter!) but have continued to post about whatever I wish because my blog is my hobby – it's not my job. I take great satisfaction in maintaining it and it makes me happy. I firmly believe a happy person is a happy employee!

Your blog is great! Keep doing what you're doing! I'm looking forward to follow along, and good luck with finding a job!!


4 elisabeta21 March 24, 2010 at 1:42 am

I found your blog through the ACRL posting today and I just wanted to say thanks for your blog. I'm getting ready to graduate library school in a few weeks, will be getting laid off even sooner and I've turned to cooking as a means of distraction and I too blog about my kitchen adventures (this is WAY weird!). Your recipes look super-yummy and knowing someone is out there in a similar situation just makes it a bit easier to handle. Best of luck with the job search! I'll be staying tuned and trying out those blueberry oatmeal muffins this week 🙂


5 Steve Lawson March 24, 2010 at 2:26 am

I just wanted to say sorry for calling you "Emily" in my ACRLog comment.

Actually, while I'm here, i guess I'll also say that if the blog isn't mostly professional in nature, you might think twice about foregrounding it in emails to potential employers and so forth. I see no reason to hide the blog or change the name, but at the asme time if you are putting it forward in a professional context, people might expect it to be more professional in nature. Just something to think about.


6 stevenb March 24, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Hi Elizabeth. Just wanted to say thanks for being a good sport about my discussion of your comment and your blog over at ACRLog. I thought your comment made for a compelling blog post, and I'm glad to see that others are chiming in and sharing their thoughts, both here and at ACRLog – and of course i'm not surprised to see we have some cynical colleagues out there as well. I hope you'll keep your spirits up and keep focused on your career goals. When I graduated from my LIS program in 1978 the economy was pretty bad,and there wasn't much hiring going on at all, especially in higher ed. So it took me about a year to get my first full-time position (I did work a few PT jobs) and not even in an academic library – I took a special library job just to get started – and then it took me 8 years to finally get a position in an academic library. But since then I'm fortunate to be able to say I've now worked 24 consecutive years as an academic librarian. I hope you'll be able to say the same at some point in your career. Good luck – and I really enjoyed reading this post.


7 Jess March 24, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Fellow unemployed librarian. I am so glad I found out about your blog from the ACRL post!
It seems life has been discouraging everywhere. I'm a recent MLIS graduate looking for a public library job in Illinois. I've applied to numerous positions, but have gotten no interviews. Like Lisa "Everywhere I go I am being told each job posting is receiving 50+ applications". I work in an academic library as a cataloger but dream of being out front helping the public directly. I worry I wont find a library job because of the job situation is so terrible. I am also bad a networking and need to get out there and make contacts. Thanks for the inspiration. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I have one I started as a project for a class but keep adding to as things come up. http://weberj.wordpress.com/ Keep doing what you're doing! I'm looking forward to follow along, and good luck with finding a job!



8 Lisa March 24, 2010 at 10:49 pm

It appears we need to start an online support group from unemployed recent library school grads!


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