Archives For career path

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?

If I had to find a non-library career, I’d take my research skills, go to Hollywood and find a break into the television fact-checking business.

Three contests at podiums competing on Jeopardy

I’ll take “Research Careers” for $1000, Alex.

This glitzy dream is driven by a great AVClub interview: Jeopardy! Head Writer Billy Wisse talks about his career path. It sounds like a great job for a research-happy librarian:

. . . your job is to double-source all of those, so you make sure that every word in the clue is solid, and then secondarily, to check to see if the clue is pinned, which is quiz-show speak for making sure that there is only one correct answer . . . And that was the researcher job then. Aside from the technology changing, that’s the researcher job now.

More dream-fuel came with the description of the show’s reference collection (those 10,000 volumes probably need serious weeding – call me, Jeopardy!).

I was struck by Wisse’s description of how his job has changed since he became head writer:

Instead of primarily being responsible for producing categories independently, now I’m primarily responsible for supervising the other writers, supervising the researchers to some extent, and assembling the games. A little more of an executive function. I still do have some time to write categories, but that’s not my main job.

That sounds a lot like an administrative librarian career path, if you replace “write categories” with “staffing the ref desk,” and “assemble the games” with . . . actually, assembling games is pretty spot on for libraries.

Check out the AVClub interview for more fascinating insights into game show research, aQnd take note: working your way up the writing ladder isn’t the only way for librarians to retire happy from Jeopardy!.