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Chapter 5: What’s a librarian to do?

This chapter was review for me, as I had already researched the topic extensively prior to applying to the MSLIS program at Syracuse University. In doing my own research, I was surprised to find out how many people switched careers to become librarians–and never looked back. A good friend of mine is a lawyer, and one of his colleagues quit practicing law to become a public librarian, which he absolutely loves. I have two friends who gave up classroom teaching to become school librarians; one of those friends moved a lot with her family in her younger years, and she has worked public, academic, and public school libraries. She always says she doesn’t miss the classroom because she doesn’t miss the grading, a sentiment I completely understand. She has really inspired me, because it is through her example that I realized I could continue teaching through librarianship. I love teaching, which is why the School Media program really appeals to me. However, this chapter really revealed the various ways in which other library jobs involve teaching.

I did find the discussion of the librarian “image” in this chapter amusing. When I tell people I’m going back to graduate school, they immediately assume I’m going to pursue a PhD, an idea I’ve toyed with over the years. When I tell them I’m going for an M.S. in Library and Information Science, they often look at me blankly, as though they’re not quite sure what to do with the information. I’ve now been subjected to a number of jokes about tweedy suits, horn-rimmed glasses, and outdated updos.

One thing the chapter does acknowledge–and I think this is really crucial–is the evolving and changing nature of librarianship. In a way, it changes and stays the same. As I mentioned in my comments on Chapter 1, I think the ocean of information available due to technology underscores the necessity for skilled librarians. Clearly, librarianship will continue to become more specialized as libraries increasingly become the conduits for accessing all kinds of information, especially information that was previously difficult to access, due to physical locations and document type. When I was in graduate school just a couple of decades ago, there was no internet, no digitized documents, etc. If I needed to see a letter in a special collections holding of a library, I had to physically travel to that library–an expensive and time-consuming venture that might in the end yield no useful results. Now, thanks to the changing nature of libraries, I might be able to see that letter now, from my home, on my own computer screen, in a matter of valuable seconds.

Kane, Laura. Careers and Environments. (2008). Research. In Haycock, K.  & Sheldon, B. E. (Eds.), The portable MLIS : Insights from the experts (pp. 42-54). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.


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