Accidental Acquisitions Librarian

Katy DiVittorio —  June 24, 2016 — 2 Comments

trees arching over a pathway with text "Accidental Acquisitions Librarian"

I call myself an “Accidental Acquisitions Librarian” because I never imagined overseeing budgets, handling monthly reconciliation, negotiating deals with vendors, overseeing and leading a unit and so much more that I do.

Did you envision your dream job when you were in library school? Maybe it was providing reference services or cataloging rare books or running story time.

Before I started library school I had no idea how tight the job market was and how challenging landing that dream or first job could be.

I attended one of the largest LIS programs in the country with a few thousand other students. I enjoyed the program and felt it prepared me in many ways for my career, however the size of the program and all the other LIS programs means there is a lot of competition for jobs. In my current workplace we also accept graduate degrees related to the MLIS for Librarian positions, so that means even more competition.

With all the people looking for library work, how do you land your dream job? Sometimes we find ourselves on a path we didn’t imagine.

I fell into this area because I had a supervisor who saw potential in me and heard my request to lead more within the organization. I was given the responsibility of handling monthly reconciliation of our collections budget, which led to taking on increased financial responsibilities and supervision.

I did not consider myself a leader before starting my graduate studies. I found myself in leadership roles during school and after, so I have made the conscious effort to grow and develop my leadership abilities.

When I first took monthly reconciliation over I have to admit there was some hair pulling on my end (who goes to library school to handle budgets?). Stepping outside my comfort zone was hard, but it gave me skills that helped me advance into my first professional position. I have stepped outside my comfort zone other times and walked away knowing that type of work is not for me. However, sometimes you walk away loving something you never thought you would and opening pathways you wouldn’t have imagined.

Are you on a path in libraries you never envisioned? How did you get there?

Katy DiVittorio


Katy is the Acquisitions Librarian at the Auraria Library in Denver, CO. She is the recipient of the 2013 ALA Shirley Olofson Memorial Award and a 2014 ALA Emerging Leader.

2 responses to Accidental Acquisitions Librarian


    Hi Kathy! I appreciate this entry so much. I’m just about finished with my MLIS and have an interview with my library’s Tech Services Dept for the Acquisitions/E-Resource Librarian position. It’s an Academic Law Library, btw. I’ve been in Access Services for the past 5+ years and am currently interim department head. I have no real experience with acquisitions, but feel sure in my ability to learn quickly. Aside from that and institutional knowledge, I don’t know what else I have to offer. Any advice for what information/scenarios to focus on for potential interview questions? Any advice is appreciated!

    Katy DiVittorio January 4, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Hi Megan,
    Congrats on almost being done with your degree and on landing your upcoming interview! Institutional knowledge goes a long way! I would recommend doing an environmental scan to really understand the needs of the library/institution. Since you already work there you are at an advantage! However, don’t assume you know everything. Take time to do more research. One selling point you have is that since you already work there you can hit the ground running. If you haven’t reviewed the NASIG Core Competencies for Electronic Resources Librarians I’d recommend checking it out. I’ve found that a lot of interview questions are “fit” questions and aren’t necessarily about the nitty gritty of Acquisitions (but that’s my experience). Here are a few examples of Acquisitions questions you might want answers for:

    •What are the current trends in law library acquisitions?
    •Tell us about a recent acquisitions project in which you took a leadership role, and which you are especially proud of.
    •What does a law library acquisitions department look like in 5 years? How do you see the role of law libraries changing?
    •Tell us about your experience working with vendors? Please describe your negotiation experience.
    •Financial stewardship is a very important part of this job. Can you tell us what experience you have with budget reconciliation?

    Good luck!

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