Goodreads Librarians Group discussion

Any REAL librarians out there ?

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message 1: by Emily (new)

Emily | 4 comments Hi! I am currently a college student (getting an undergraduate degree in child development) and I know that a lot of you goodreads "librarians" are actually real librarians, so I was wondering if any of you had any advice for me! I am thinking trying to either be a children's librarian or an elementary school librarian.

I would love to hear about anyone's experiences getting to where they are today and what they think about the librarian profession.

message 2: by Kara (new)

Kara (kcripley) I am a librarian in a public library but have worked in a school library. I like the public setting better because the people you get in the public library are there of their own accord.

Kids in schools have to go to the library for homework and assignments. You have to deal with behavior problems on a much more regular basis and you also have to deal with school and educational policies and standards.

In both areas there are opportunities to really help kids learn and grow but I much prefer the public setting.

message 3: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (mahart) | 6 comments I'm a middle school librarian and I absolutely love it. Honestly, I can't think of a better job for my personality and outlook on life. I work really hard during the day: I see lots of classes that check out books and use the library for independent reading; give lessons on research techniques; collaborate with many other teachers on special projects, like bookmaking, comics art, and film-making; and have open access times for kids to just drop in. Then I pretty much get to leave my job at work... the stuff I do in my off-hours I would probably do anyway, like reading YA books and comics and researching new titles for book orders.

I do deal with a fair amount of behavior issues, but a lot less than a regular classroom teacher (most kids come to the library of their own free will and/or you can actually ask a really disruptive student to leave). I have more problems with behavior in the hallway outside my library than I do in the room, but nothing awful or unusual for an urban middle school.

Elementary librarians can be cluster teachers, though, which means you see a fixed number of classes on a regular schedule, like a music or gym teacher, so those classroom management issues that Kara's talking about are probably a bigger issue in the lower grades. Middle school seems scary, but actually I really like the kids... old enough to have a decent conversation and do higher-level work, but not too old to be completely tuned out and jaded. If you can handle the hormones and the attitude, it's a really rewarding age to work with as a librarian, since that's when the major reading slump hits most kids and you can be a big part of keeping them interested in print culture.

I imagine that being a public library is also really fun (and I would love to do that too, maybe part-time or when I retire... many many years from now :), but there are a bunch of practical things that made me choose the public school system: better salary, solid pensions and health care, and summers off.

Either way, it's a great career choice... most librarians that I know really love it, and I can't imagine doing anything else now that I've settled into this career.

message 4: by Richard (new)

Richard (mrredwood) | 40 comments I was a librarian in my university library and loved it. My personal take is that the life is perfect for a mildly obsessive/compulsive type that tends to hum happily during busywork and enjoys being undramatically helpful.

But my primary reaction is to:

Kara wrote: "I am a librarian in a public library but have worked in a school library. I like the public setting better because the people you get in the public library are there of their own accord...

Keep in mind that there can be a substantial homeless problem in (and around) many urban libraries, with the expected difficulties. The capacious and wonderful San Francisco Public Main branch is my local library, and there is a persistent cohort of usually-but-not-always-polite but smelly folks there. The librarians I've talked to tell me the chronic problem isn't bad, but occasionally spikes into an acute problem. If you don't mind the occasional social-worker aspect...

message 5: by John (new)

John Ekleberry (ekleberry) | 2 comments I've worked in a public library system for over a decade and will graduate with my MSLS this month. It's been my joy and privilege to be able to do this for a living. Looking forward to the next decade and beyond! :)

message 6: by Brandy (new)

Brandy | 29 comments There are a whole bunch of GoodReads groups for "real librarians", including one for Public Librarians and another for School Librarians.

message 7: by Emily (new)

Emily | 4 comments Thank you to kara, melissa, richard, john and brandy for your answers!! Its great to hear experiences about both types of libraries (school and public). It all sounds like you love your jobs!

Those of you who do work in the children's department, what does your average day look like? How much freedom do you have to develop and carry out programs for children?

Thank you in advance for those of you who have time to answer my questions!

And thanks for the heads up about the other groups, i'm going to go check them out.

message 8: by Emily (new)

Emily (rozmuse) | 1 comments I am a K-12 librarian in a small school. I taught jr/sr high English for 12 years before I got my master's/license to be a school librarian four years ago. I absolutely love what I do. Every day is different and I never know what will come my way. I love working with such a diverse age range of kids too- I can talk good books or advanced media literacy with Juniors and then get hugs and use puppets with Kindergarteners. I highly recommend this job - but be prepared to be tired at the end of the day!

message 9: by Heidi-Marie (new)

Heidi-Marie | 4 comments I am a Reference Librarian, and have worked in other library settings, too. I still think I would really like to be a school librarian, but that's the area I have least (almost none!) experience and thus they will not hire me. I'm wondering, though, if I might actually prefer the academic route. As long as I can work the desk, answer questions, help people find information, teach people how to use a library and find information, and get to help with circulation duties then I would be quite happy.

message 10: by Devon (new)

Devon Sampson (devonforobama) | 2 comments I am! I work at the Ipswich Public Library MA

message 11: by Devon (new)

Devon Sampson (devonforobama) | 2 comments childrens librian is awesome!

message 12: by Bela (new)

Bela (beladela) Going on 14 years as a professional librarian: 5 years as children's/public librarian and the rest as a medical/academic librarian. It takes a special kind of person with a lot of patience to be a public librarian! :-) Academic is less stressful in a lot of ways. Good luck!

message 13: by Laura (new)

Laura Gardner (librarianmsg) | 1 comments I'm a children/teen librarian in a public library and before that I was in a school library for three years. Both have its benefits and they're both really fun jobs! I like that in the public library we can do lots of completely fun, non-academic things like craft days, game nights, book/movie clubs, etc. I also like that my current job is with all ages, so in the morning I might do a toddler storytime and then have a teen event in the afternoon. It's a lot of work, but it's all very rewarding. I also really loved the academic side of things in a school library. I think school librarians have a unique position in a school and can really be behind-the-scenes leaders in their school, leading inquiry-based, authentic learning from the school library. I miss collaborating with teachers on various research projects and I miss encouraging high school kids to read for fun (still do that some when I visit schools or in the library, but not as much). I love that moment when a kid enjoys a book for the first time in a long time! There are so many great YA books out there and it's fun to make that match b/w book and kid/teen. Basically, being a librarian is the best job in the world, for me at least, and I feel very fortunate that I found it!!

message 14: by Jan (new)

Jan | 1 comments Merry Christmas! I went back to school and earned a Master's in Library & Information Science at University of Illinois. I loved the whole experience (well, most of it). My take on things is that this is a terrific time to begin a career as a librarian. That being said, I work full time at a community college, though not in our library. Continuing my interest and contacts in all things library, and seeing where my career path will lead. Good luck with your career.

message 15: by Eric_W (last edited Dec 28, 2008 07:09AM) (new)

Eric_W (ericw) Hi Emily.

I started my librarian career in a university medical school library. It was great experience, but the contact I had with the public was mostly people with terminal diseases looking for cures. Not the best experience, and the large university bureaucracy was overwhelming and often pointless. I then took a job as a small community college library director and stayed there for 25 years before I retired. I LOVED it. Community college libraries have the best of both worlds: academic environment but lots of public to help and not so specialized as a special library. You have a lot of freedom to teach also if you want. If you like the mix of books, learning, computers and databases, the library world is perfect. My career gradually evolved as responsibilities were added and soon I was a dean overseeing distance learning, media department, telecourses, academic computing, and eventually the IT department at the college. But my love was always the library and integrating the library into the college academic environment. The point here is that a community college offers loads of opportunities for growth and service. It was a great career, and I still miss going to work everyday.

BTW, my daughter also decided on a career as a librarian and worked in a public library for several years before getting her school certification and now plans to work in a middle school library. She's on Goodreads, too.

message 16: by Sally (new)

Sally | 3 comments Hi Emily,
I'm an academic librarian at a community college in Nashville Tennessee. I love being a librarian. It is a very fun job. You get to read and continue learning. I became interested in being a librarian in jr. high when I volunteered as a library page in my hometown public library. I like to write stories and read, so I decided to go to college to be a librarian. It really is to best profession in the world! I love it. I commute to work by train and bicycle, so I am called the "Environmental Biking Librarian". I also am the faculty sponsor of the student environmental group on campus.

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

I am a public librarian. I love my job. If you like people and reading and information, then this is the career for you.

The benefits of working in a public library are that you do have more freedom in collection development than in a school library, and you get to meet all kinds of interesting people.

However, I have a few friends who have left public librarianship to work in school libraries, and I know some people prefer it. I think the vacation is definitely better (summers off, because the libraries in schools are often closed during the summer), your environment is more controlled also.

But either way you go, being a librarian is awesome. I love it.

message 18: by Neva (new)

Neva (pcalico) I'm a librarian, too -- though most of my work has been freelance: research, controlled vocabularies & indexing, literature searches. I prefer academic research work because there's always a new question.

However, one becomes isolated from professional colleagues. Joining the Good Reads Librarians is a partial solution to that!

message 19: by Emily (new)

Emily | 4 comments Thank you for all your responses! I loved reading them all and they definitely helped me!

I am going to apply for an internship at both a school library and a public library and then just see which ever one wants me! It's interesting to see the different paths people have taken. I'm really interested in working with kids/ my main concern is that I don't get too far away from that.

I would love to hear where everyone went to school. Is it true that you need an MLS from an ALA accredited school??

message 20: by Ledawn (new)

Ledawn (libarygrrrl) | 2 comments I've been an Elementary Library Technician for 6 years in CA. It's a classified position which means I didn't need a degree for the job. I lucked into it by volunteering in the library when my daughter was in kindergarten and was hired by the school district as a sub.
It's been the best job I've ever had. I love to read and tell stories. I love the organization/classification of books and thought about getting a degree in library science but my first love is music.
Let me know if I can give you any practical advice...cheers!

message 21: by Ledawn (new)

Ledawn (libarygrrrl) | 2 comments I am also lucky enough to be able to walk to my job (school). What a way to start the morning!

message 22: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (bibliobecky) | 7 comments I am! I have worked in all kinds of library settings: academic, public, and school. Right now I am a middle school librarian (love it!) and I work part-time in a children's room at a public library on weekends and in the summer.

I have flex scheduling at my school, which is perfect since the teachers schedule when they want to bring their classes in instead of dumping them there because it is their prep time like block scheduling. Many elementary school it is a block schedule system. But my day is always busy, always interesting, and I love the age.

Doing adult reference if fine, but I know nothing about the business room, so I feel for the adults who come to me for advice, give me rowdy teens any day.

message 23: by Dawn (new)

Dawn VanLerberghe I previously worked in the public setting and have now worked in the K-12 environment for 12 years. I would not trade the school library for any other job. In the public setting you got the readers, but in the school setting you make the readers. I don't know how many students have told me that they wouldn't have started reading if it weren't for me. That is a great compliment.

I have degrees in elem. ed., art ed., and my masters in library and there is only one place I choose -- the library. I get to see all ages in my k-12 school. It is more flexible, so I can allow a few to cry on my shoulders when needed, and I get to literally talk books. I get to wow the little kids into loving books, I get to find new books for those who are unsure, I get to find new books or authors for students to get excited about. Not only that, but I have many of the teachers reading also (although I wish I could get more male teachers on board).

I guess my advice for you is too decide which you prefer -- families that already utilize the library for reading and learning in the public realm OR students who could use something like the library and books in their life. Both are rewarding, but its your calling.

message 24: by 200footdrop (new)

200footdrop | 1 comments I am currently a middle school librarian, and it get fun every day, and different. It gets to be a great expirence to work with

message 25: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda (arkady62) | 10 comments Emily wrote: "Hi! I am currently a college student (getting an undergraduate degree in child development) and I know that a lot of you goodreads "librarians" are actually real librarians, so I was wondering if a..."


I am an academic librarian in a small rural state university in Oklahoma. The pay isn't great, but I wouldn't change being here for the world. I love being a librarian. We have a distance ed. media specialist program from East Central, (I think it's East Central), and a few of the local teachers are in the program. With the state phasing out many MLIS Librarians in school libraries, many teachers are going with the media specialist option to keep the library a viable part of their schools educational track. You might want to check into that option along with becoming a public librarian. No matter what your decision for the future, I wish you the best...


message 26: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 3 comments I'm a librarian, have been for over 10 years. I currently work as an academic librarian at a large university. I was a special librarian for most of my career at an insurance company, and now work in the business library at the university. I love it! So, other than some volunteer work at my kid's school, I'm a little removed from the life of a school librarian - however check out this article from yesterday's New York Times:

message 27: by Luann (new)

Luann (azbookgal) | 15 comments Nice article, Peggy. With current budget crunches, even elementary schools with certified librarians are now moving them elsewhere. I have a teaching certificate and a Master's in Library Science, but will probably have to be in a classroom next year if I want to stay in my current school district. And I'll get to watch some untrained aide run my library.

message 28: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda (arkady62) | 10 comments Luann wrote: "And I'll get to watch some untrained aide run my library.
I am so sorry to hear that Luann - it is their loss...the sad part, the truly sad part is how it will impact the students. The school districts have no idea what librarians do for the school, how they enhance what a teacher conveys in a classroom or open new worlds for the students...even if you reach just one, just that one eye opening moment...

message 29: by Luann (last edited Feb 22, 2009 08:27PM) (new)

Luann (azbookgal) | 15 comments Thanks, Rhonda. Well put! That's exactly how I feel. My school does place a high priority on reading, but a lack of funds forces tough decisions. We don't have firm amounts for next year's budget yet, so there is still hope until then. But it isn't looking great. :(

message 30: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Devon wrote: "I am! I work at the Ipswich Public Library MA"

Flash from my past, Devon. Every summer we went to Newburyport MA where there was a small but splendid library. My mother and I would continue our weekly library jaunts in summer mode...

My personal thanks to all the librarians of the world!!

message 31: by Raymond (new)

Raymond (kiwimac) | 6 comments I'm a Special Librarian. Worked mostly in Government Department libraries but currently I am administering a small library for a Working Men's club and beginning the process of helping a Railway museum set up a library.

message 32: by Martha (new)

Martha This is my first year as a middle school librarian. Before I taught 8th grade Humanities for 10 years. It is a good transfer of skills for me. However I have to get another master's degree. At this point I almost feel as if I don't have the same personality type as other people in the program, but am trying to develop my attention to detail, etc. The other issue is that I almost feel as if I am joining a profession that is in danger of extinction. Yes, I know libraries are changing and adapting, but still schools in California have either cut or will be cutting their library media teachers. Beyond that, I love my job, and feel the same way as other posts have added.

message 33: by David (new)

David (canadiandave) | 3 comments I work in an Academic library in the science department, so I don't have too much insight into public or school libraries is limited. I found school libraries frustrating since they are so limited in resources and what they could do (as a student). My mother is also an academic librarian, but she says she misses and longs for the days she worked in the Calgary Public Library system.

message 34: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 1 comments Emily wrote: "Hi! I am currently a college student (getting an undergraduate degree in child development) and I know that a lot of you goodreads "librarians" are actually real librarians, so I was wondering if a..."

I am an accidental librarian. I was a regular patron at my local library when a position came open and I applied. For a book fanatic, this is the perfect job. If you truly love children and want to make a difference in the next generation, invest your time and effort into becoming a librarian for a public library or school library. Our children will gain so much from someone who truly is passionate about their job.

message 35: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 1 comments Hi! I am a high school English teacher with five years of teaching experience in public high schools in California and New Mexico. I love my work but am exhausted, especially from grading papers during the weekends and evenings. I have applied to a library science program in the area and plan to teach part time and take classes toward an MLIS degree next year. I am drawn to Library Science because I love sparking interest in books/ authors/ ideas and want to participate in inquiry based learning --whether in a public library or a school library. I also need to maintain a greater balance between home life and work life and hope that a job as a librarian will be more contained than my current situation.

My question is this -- am I a madwoman to consider a career change to library science at this moment in time? I want to pursue this long held dream, but I also need to be pragmatic. So, given your "on the ground" experience, what trends do you notice in the job market for new librarians? (I live in the Bay Area but am also curious to hear what folks in other parts of the country have to say about the job market. )

Thanks in advance for your response!

message 36: by Annalaura (new)

Annalaura (annalaurabrown) | 2 comments I am a college librarian and love it. I love teaching students about how to use resources and doing research. I also get to do quite a bit of web stuff and technology things with my job and I love this part as well.

the job market for librarians is tough right now. Although it does depend a bit on where you live.
I could only find a part time job, fortunately I also work from home and make money otherwise I don't know what I would do.

message 37: by Joy (new)

Joy I'm only 12, but i want to be a librarian.

message 38: by Heidi-Marie (new)

Heidi-Marie | 4 comments Joy wrote: "I'm only 12, but i want to be a librarian."

Yay! Good for you! We would love to have you! I'll look for you when you get through college! :-)

message 39: by Jeni (new)

Jeni (jeni_g) | 1 comments A little about me--I earned my BA in history from the University of Michigan, and my MLIS from Wayne State University. Currently I'm a medical librarian at an urban, public, teaching hospital and it is amazing! I work with medical, nursing, PA, and med tech students, as well as resident and attending physicians. Occasionally we get patients and their families that come in requesting information or internet access. I can honestly say that I can not think of a more rewarding or fulfilling job then to work with people, to help them learn, (and learn myself)and to want to get up every morning and go to work.

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