We last heard from Greg Bem on October 20, 2014, in the post Full time schedule, room for innovation, digital responsibilities.
Where are you now? What’s your work situation like, and what path did you take this last year?
I am currently a part-time faculty librarian at Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech). I just finished up another part time position at North Seattle College Library as the Student Media Center Coordinator, but decided to leave to pursue librarianship exclusively. This past summer I completed a contract in Cambodia with the Wildlife Conservation Society as an information management professional. It’s my goal to continue at LWTech while I seek out additional part-time employment as a librarian, or an appropriate full-time position in the Greater Seattle Area.
Looking at last year’s answers, have any of your attitudes changed?
I really think that the library job market is dependent upon patience and self-awareness. I did not truly realize how specialized librarianship can be until I started working as a librarian and working with/communicating with practicing librarians directly. There is countless opportunity for growth and professional development and specialization in the world of librarianship and pursuing it is a challenge, but it’s necessary. To know oneself and to develop one’s skills in a focused manner can be incredibly difficult but appears to be the surest way to find librarian positions that one qualifies to hold.
What’s your best advice for job hunters?
As mentioned above–focus on yourself. Be ready to say “I’m not ready yet” and then figure out what specific skills need to be worked on. I think every librarian in every position can appropriately do this to find their next move. Of course, looking at job postings in the ocean of the Internet is incredibly difficult because it can be overwhelming from a professional development point of view. That being said, focus on skills and knowledge that seems attainable. Make baby steps. Oh, and try and tap into communication as much as possible (whether it’s active via conferences or passive via listservs) to survey what is needed in any given region. Knowing the rises and falls in the profession in a given consortium or geographical area can help you understand the landscape and know what to expect when you’re looking for the next job/opportunity. Mentors and individuals can really help with this process too.
Anything else you want to share with us?
Be open. You have no idea how many individuals I’ve met in this relatively open profession who are closed-minded and think of certain opportunities (from volunteering to taking contracts to consulting and so on) as fantasy or unattainable. It’s a shock! When twiddling your thumbs, take a moment to think of some way to contribute to the information vortex within your local community. Be it volunteering at a small/special library, a museum, or for an NGO, or taking that extra free month you have off to go do an internship or contract in a new place–these are the opportunities that will give you energy and optimism to the profession/field, and will do nothing but help you as a librarian.
Greg is willing to answer questions you post in the comments.