This week, I have asked some people who hire librarians:
What is the best piece of career advice you ever received, and who gave it to you?
Read Margaret Mann’s “Introduction to Cataloging …”‘ although card centric, the principles are basic in this time of flux. I was so advised by Clyde Pettus, professor of cataloguing at new closed Emory University library school.
This advice could be extended to being familiar with bibliographic tinkers from Panizzi to Gorman. It’s easy to get lost in the trees and not see the forest.
– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging
At the time I was an animal-mad teenager and doing biology and other science subjects, and she said that if I really wanted to work with animals I needed to get some practical experience, and to try contacting some organisations directly to volunteer. I did exactly that, contacting local animal shelters and zoos. Much to my surprise I got asked to go and see the Director of Marwell Wildlife Park (a well respected zoo near Winchester, UK), and even more to my surprise he offered me a volunteer zoo keeper place at age 16.I worked there on Saturdays and school holidays for the next two years, and then got a live-in job at a quarantine cattery and kennels at 18. After 6 months I returned to college and went onto university to do a Bachelors in Zoology. During my degree I realised that I didn’t really want to spend my whole career mucking out animals, or working in a laboratory, and so in the end I changed tack and went into human resources and recruitment work.
Despite that change, the initial advice (to get practical experience and not just focus on academic qualifications) stood me in good stead and gave me some great experiences that I will remember throughout my whole life. Whatever field you are trying to break into, volunteering to gain that first taste of real life experience is an invaluable addition to formal qualifications.
– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.
The best advice is something that was told to me by my boss-slash-mentor at my library: don’t sell yourself short. When I moved from my part-time job to my full-time position, I tended to think of myself still as not-a-professional and hesitated to offer my thoughts in the presence of people who had been in their positions longer. If you are new on the job, or if you are interviewing, be confident and don’t be afraid to volunteer information. New hires bring a new and usually welcome perspective to an organization that maybe needs a bit of shaking up.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
The best piece of career advice I ever received came from the Reference Services Division Head. When I was a Librarian I, I was offered a transfer from Reference to Computer Division. I was unsure about making the change — I LOVED reference work and I loved working in the Reference Dept at the Main branch. Computer Division was an unknown quantity since we didn’t even have staff computers at that time, much less public ones.The Reference Head asked me if I was going to accept the transfer and when I shrugged she said, “Take the job in Computer Division. It’ll be good for your career.”I took the job. She was absolutely right too.– Emilie Smart, Division Coordinator of Reference Services & Computer Services at East Baton Rouge Parish Library
Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight. If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.
What about YOU? What’s the best piece of career advice you ever received, and where did it come from? Thanks for reading!