Confession time, again. Ever since I left my job at F&M, and particularly since I received my MLS, I’ve been itching to return to work in an academic library…until recently. Let me explain
I loved working in academia. I especially get excited about the opportunities that exist to work with students in library instruction and with research projects. I love research, and always thought I would like to be a reference librarian, although the tide is pretty much turning so that an academic librarian wears more than one hat (at a time). I also miss actually, physically being in a library. Working in a systems office is more like working in a business environment, and I miss the stacks. I also love the educational and professional development opportunities available to professional staff on a college campus. It just feels good being there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the job I have now, and I work in a nice environment with great people. But until recently, I just wasn’t finding my niche, at least as a cataloger. I’m kind of a reluctant cataloger. I do my job to the best of my ability (and I think I do a good job), but I find cataloging limiting since there are broader issues on deck for libraries now that are beyond the scope of my current position. Or so I thought.
I have become excited about public libraries during the strategic planning process. I truly believe that this is a make or break time for us—all of us in the public library sector. My gut tells me (and I place a lot of emphasis on instinct) that public libraries are on the verge of a renaissance. If we could just catch a break on funding—although that is not a panacea—and we could fully educate the public as to exactly what a public library looks like in the 21st century, then I see a bright future ahead. I want to be a part of that renaissance. And I can do that most effectively as an insider, regardless of my current position or title.
I will always look for opportunities to grow professionally, and I will take on any challenges that come my way; however, the world of public libraries needs all the help it can get. They have earned and deserve a secure and fundamental place in our communities. I would be proud to say ten years from now that I was part of a successful public awareness/education program that helped turn the tide for public libraries everywhere, or at least in Lancaster County. In fact, I can envision future partnerships that would engage all libraries in Lancaster County—academic, school, special, and public—in a joint effort to promote the collective value of libraries. And then it wouldn’t matter so much whether you work in one kind of library or another. Because we would all be working toward a common goal.
Here’s a link to an op-ed I wrote last year around this time. It was picked up by our System trainer, and then by SaveLibraries.org–