Librarianship can be a struggle when it’s your second career

Most of us who come to the library are often starting our second career. Prior to becoming a librarian, I had not only managed a law firm, but had operated my own private music studio.

At times, the transition that you must make can be difficult. I often find myself wanting to take on more responsibility. In particular, coming from a management position where I was responsible for a staff and making vital decisions in the operation of a business to offering suggestions and hoping that my supervisors give me the go ahead can be difficult.

I think many librarians coming from other backgrounds struggle with changes in their role as a new professional. Many of us are lucky to have a supportive department. I am also fortunate to have an extremely understanding supervisor who gives me quite a bit of freedom to try new things. However, not everyone finds themselves in a desirable situation.

Frustration in a new job can be an unfortunate bi-product of our past experiences and skills. This is especially true if we are coming from successful positions. Eagerly looking forward to a new profession and taking with us all of the transferrable skills we are bringing to the table, it is easy to forget that we are new to the library world.

Don’t feel discouraged if you feel frustrated. The library world is small, and sometimes it just takes time to become better acquainted with the profession and the professionals in it. The transition to a new profession can be hard. Experiences and skills that you bring to your new position are important. However, you must remember that you are new. Your employer is not aware of all of your talents and your level of commitment until you have a chance to exhibit it. Be patient, stay dedicated and get active.

Although I have an artistic background, most of my professional experiences have occurred in a business setting. When I started my new position, my skills in business and marketing were not buried. Instead, I looked at my new role and considered the best ways to contribute with my existing skills and interests. As a result, I feel that I am constantly building upon my existing knowledge base, rather than creating a new base. Working in a library has also allowed me the freedom to use more creativity. However, my professional fulfillment does not stem solely from my position (although I love my job!).

I am dedicated to librarianship. When my day ends and I go home, my “job” does not end. I read professional journals both in librarianship and outside librarianship. One of my favourite publications is the Harvard Business Review. I also enjoy reading my husband’s law journals. They give me an entirely different perspective on how information is perceived and what is happening in the legal field that may impact us. I write articles for journals and volunteer to write book reviews. I carry my business card everywhere and make it a point to explain to politicians, lawyers and yes, even neighbours what I do and why it’s important. I email authors of journal articles to comment on what they’ve written and to establish professional contacts. I also volunteer for positions in special interest groups (SIGs) in our professional associations, attend talks and participate in discussions forums (like having a blog and reading blogs!)

For those new to the profession, stay focused on why you chose librarianship. I encourage you to get involved in associations and volunteer positions. I also urge you to read your professional journals. Staying current and demonstrating a willingness to succeed in your new profession will soon overcome any frustration you initially felt when entering librarianship.

And, by the way, welcome to the profession! I think it’s a decision you’ll never regret.



Filed under The Cataloguer

2 responses to “Librarianship can be a struggle when it’s your second career

  1. Pingback: What makes a good cataloguer? | The Cataloguing Librarian

  2. Pingback: Ta da! Librarian! « Metadata, cataloging, & various librarian-like stuff

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