Librarians Afloat

Megan Hartline —  February 21, 2014 — Leave a comment
Cruise passengers relaxing and reading in deck chairs

Cruise passengers need librarians too.  
Photo CC BY-NC Bob Jagendorf

Close your eyes and picture your library. Now imagine that Internet access crawls at a sluggish pace, safety drills are both frequent and mandatory, and you’re the only person who works there. On the other hand, your library is on cruise ship.

Rebecca Vogler dished about her cruise ship librarian gig on INALJ:

I got to see the Panama Canal, stand on an island in the Caribbean, marvel at the beautiful Alaskan glaciers and the biggest mountains I have ever seen in my life, encounter my first volcanos in Costa Rica, and enjoyed the pleasure of running my very own library.

On at the Simmons news blog, another cruise ship librarian, Cressida Hanson, says:

Superior customer service is the essential skill to be successful in this position. I work with up to 1,400 passengers and cruises turn over guests on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Reference interviewing skills are important.

Serving 1400 rotating passengers sounds analogous to public libraries. On the academic side, there are Semester at Sea librarians like Mary Johnston, providing scientific research support to faculty and students while afloat.

By all accounts, it seems like cruise librarianship hones unique skills and allows you to put a personal stamp on library services, and there’s always the appeal of shelving books in formal wear in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Megan Hartline


Megan Hartline (@awrybrarian on Twitter) is a librarian in Denver, Colorado. In addition to librarianship, Megan's background is in nonprofit leadership. She would love to visit your library to talk about management, workflows, or customer service.

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