Back in 2012/2013 I ran a survey of job hunters (co-authored by Naomi House of INALJ). It had over 500 responses, including 117 people who were at least initially willing to be non-anonymous. In this series, we check in with these respondents to see where they are now.
Dina Schuldner took the Job Hunter’s survey on January 4, 2013. Her responses appeared as The Renaissance Person. At that time, she was a recent graduate and a recently hired adult services librarian. We followed up with her in December 2014 and learned she was a Full Time Permanent Young Adult and Children’s Librarian.
When I contacted her this month to follow up, she asked if she could share advice and encouragement to people in the library profession, and that is what follows:
What I’d like to share is that dogged determination pays off. After 6 successful years in public libraries in New York, my husband and I moved to Virginia to be closer to my family.
When we moved, I did not have a library job waiting for me in Virginia. What I did have was a volunteer position with YALSA as the chair for the Community Connections Task Force. This was a virtual position, which I managed through meetings on the predecessor of Google Meet (Hangouts), and ALA Connect. I got experience leading a team in that role, and I am very proud of the toolkit we developed for YALSA. After that ended, I applied for, and landed, a position volunteering with Virginia Beach Public Library.
I had set up my LinkedIn account back in library school, connecting with my classmates, many of whom I am still in contact with. I kept it updated throughout my journey. In 2017, I was contacted through LinkedIn by a recruiter for a college. A couple of interviews later, I was an adjunct instructor and academic librarian. I held that position for 4 years, where I managed the library and its staff, sometimes on my own, sometimes in conjunction with other librarians.
An opportunity to get back into public libraries presented itself, and because I had experience managing the academic library, I was taken on as an assistant manager in a library branch of a large city system.
Yesterday, a young boy around the age of 8 recognized me in the library, after I said hello to him and his friend. He said to me, “Are you the one who helped my grandmother on the computer?” I said I might be, because I help people on the computer all the time. He asked me, “What do you do here?” I told him that I am a librarian. He asked me “What do you do?” I told him I help people on the computer, I help order books for the library for people to check out for adults, and other people order for children, and that I help with library programs.
I realize now that in that moment, I was representing the profession to a young, impressionable boy, who may be in the process of searching for career paths even in elementary school. Maybe I put a seed in his mind that the helping I do is something he might want to do, so he could help people like his grandmother when he grows up.
I got into libraries to make a difference in young adult lives. I wound up excelling as a children’s librarian, a young adult librarian, a reference librarian, an academic librarian, and now as an assistant manager of a public library.
I would recommend to job seekers to follow your passion, and take any job in your field to get the experience you need. Dedication in the job you currently hold, lifelong learning, and the willingness to try new positions offered to you may change your life.
Anyone interested in a career in libraries may connect with me on LinkedIn. I will be happy to offer advice or answer any questions that I can, related to the profession.