Many readers of YALSA’s blog, like me, are new librarians. I hope not as many, also like me, are unemployed, but I fear that the number of unemployed new librarians is higher than anyone would like it to be. Since my graduation in December of 2010, I have been searching for a job. The job search experience has been eye-opening and completely different from what I expected. I expected I would graduate, write and re-write my resume, apply for 20-30 jobs, and in less than six months I would proudly be telling my family about my new position as a librarian. It’s okay, I will wait for you to finish laughing. Instead, I graduated and several resume drafts, many job applications, and six months later I am still unemployed. Fortunately, unemployment does not have to mean stagnation. Here are some of the things I have been doing to keep current within the profession:
Unemployment has given me the freedom to explore areas of librarianship I would probably not have explored otherwise. My first internship was in the First Year Services department of an academic library. This is an internship I held as a student and was fortunate enough to continue after graduation.’ During my nine month tenure, I discovered ways in which my love of young adult librarianship translated into work with incoming freshmen and other first year students. It also gave me time to hone my reference interview and learn more about some databases that classes in library school only briefly touched on. Most importantly, my first internship gave me connections to other more established librarians. I was able to ask about their journeys and get some encouragement about my own. These connections also enabled me to gain other internships. I was able to get a four week internship in the Special Collections Department of the same library and see how differently the two departments operate. My internship experience continues to be beneficial to me.
Not having a large pile of articles and YA literature to read for class has given me the freedom to read other piles of articles and YA literature. I find professional articles to read somewhat haphazardly by following links posted by library professionals on Twitter and Facebook. I need to develop a system for finding articles relevant to YA librarians, do you have any suggestions for journals to read or professionals to follow on social networks? My plan for reading YA lit is much more systematic. I am working my way through award lists. I began with the Newbery Medal winners. It was very interesting to see how the award winning books changed across time. Currently, I am reading my way through the winners and honor books of the Michael L. Printz Award. A complete list of the award winners and honor books can be found here. Somewhere between professional articles and YA books fall blogs. There are several well-known librarian bloggers, but I particularly enjoy reading group blogs. Group blogs seem to offer fresh content on a more consistent basis, and it is nice to read the opinions of multiple authors. Some of my favorite group library blogs are Libraries and Transliteracy, Hack Library School, and The Hub. I am still building a great core of blogs dedicated to YA librarianship, so if you have any to recommend, let me know in the comments!
As I mentioned earlier, my internship experience gave me the opportunity to make wonderful connections with other more established librarians. With the technology available today, networking is simple! If you read blogs, take the next step and comment on them. It has been my experience that bloggers love comments and commenting can lead to some amazing professional relationships. You can also follow people on social networking sites. Acquaintances made through blogging or at conferences can be continued and possibly deepened through mutual following. Professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn help maintain your online presence and keep you in touch with people you meet across the profession.
Just because I graduated does not mean my opportunities for learning have ended. I have been continuing to develop and practice skills learned in library school such as using programming languages. I have also been continuing to learn Spanish. I studied Spanish as an undergraduate and in my part of the United States, many patrons speak Spanish as their first language. If offered a job, I would like to be able to serve my patrons as best as possible, so continuing to try to learn Spanish seems beneficial to me. Additionally,YALSA offers many continuing education opportunities. I have been fortunate enough to participate in a couple of Webinars produced by YALSA and though I was at first nervous,’ I found them to be highly informative and I highly recommend them.
These are just some of the things I have been doing to keep current while I continue searching for a job. If you are a new librarian, what are you doing to prevent stagnation? If you are a more established librarian, what actions do you recommend to myself or others in my situation?
In response to you question about where to find articles relevant to YA librarians, I would point you to what I consider the three gold standard publications: YALS, Children and Libraries, and School Library Journal. Children and Libraries and School Library Journal are both heavily focused (if not entirely focused) on library services to children, but I find that the practical ideas and some of the research are often applicable to my service to teens. I would also recommend your state library association’s publications. I am highly satisfied with the high quality best practices and research that I read from both Indiana and Pennsylvania.
I do read School Library Journal, and I am excited to check out the other two publications you mention. Thanks for the suggestions!
Keep your head up! More baby boomers retire every day, meaning plenty of jobs! Yay! But not every library is comfortable posting its positions online 🙁 So I’m calling these folks, and I hope you are too!
Don’t worry, be happy!
Laid off from the East Skeeter Public Library