First of all. Let me just say. This day came way faster than I thought it would.
Here I am at the close of my career as a library student and the start of my career as an informational professional. Hack Library School has played a significant role in my professional development. As my scholastic experience ends, it gives me pride that there are some great new writers coming on board to carry on the banner. However, as I transition out of my role as a contributing writer, I’ll take this opportunity to look back and look forward.
Starting this journey as a returning student and a brand new library worker I was pretty fresh-faced, yet excited. I had a broad philosophic understanding of librarianship – knowing that free, open and protected access to information is a foundation of democracy. However I had little practical knowledge of the inner-workings of libraries. Cataloging standards, metadata schemes, and the battles surrounding DRM all felt like a foreign language. And the icing on the cake was watching rapidly developing technology coincide with a rapidly deteriorating economy. All of these factors made me feel like I was standing in a snow globe after a good shake – and I was trying to guess where the flakes would land.
During school, there was doubt and frustration. But there were some important lessons that kept the excitement burning. I learned that the exact technology that seemed to be drawing patrons away from the library also unshackled the librarians to meet users on their own terms. Embedded librarianship, virtual reference, and digital collections created the opportunity for librarians to insert their relevance into the 21st century…as long as these systems and resources were well designed that created an experience that exceed the users expectations. Moving forward, there is no room for mediocrity.
At the same time, I feel many forces were trying to damper libraries potential. Many of these resources are external (with budget cuts toping that list), but some of these forces were internal as well. Public voices from within the industry regularly offer important and necessary criticisms, there are a lot of public views that are detrimental to the future young librarians are trying to create. Lets face it, no matter how much you like to feel like you are doling out advice, arguments against distance education (calling our programs “Laptop U”), non-traditional library programming and reminiscing over the good ole’ days before the onset of the internet are not helpful.
Yes. As I leave the comfort and safety of library school, I am fast realizing that there are a lot of obstacles facing those of us who are attempting to move our careers forward. I recently applied to a public library job that had 630 other applicants. Only to find out the library actually had to cuts its budget. So they weren’t hiring. They were in fact laying people off. Forcing them to reenter the job market.
Yet, I still have faith. Because challenging times create opportunities for creativity and creative problem solving. And I feel that librarianship is an inherently creative profession. Not only are we trained to approach problems from different angles in library school, the library profession attracts individuals who are willing to fight and scrap for what we want. Not only are we going to have to fight for our own employment, once employed we are going to have to continue fighting for our users. We don’t have an easy road in front of us. But it will be an interesting one.
There is a little mantra that keeps me going. Both during the dark moments and during the bright. It works for any librarian, no matter what stage of the game we are at (or so I like to believe). So, please repeat after me:
We are the champions.
WE are the champions.
We ARE the champions.
We are the CHAMPIONS.
Thank you to the Hack Library School team. Thank you to the readers. Thank you to those who came before and those who will come after. While I will stay a member of the Hack Library School community, I will probably be spending more of my time behind the scenes. It has been a wonderful experience writing here and I look forward to seeing where this blog goes.