Library School Life Lessons

I struggled with what to write about for my final HLS post. I got swept away in the transition from library school to new job, then considered and re-considered what I could share with HLS readers that could possibly be of value. As I pondered, I looked back through the HLS archives and found this post, written when I was halfway through library school. It’s funny to me to read how similar some things are, and also how different. I did a lot of growing up while I was in library school. Think of this as me giving my younger self some advice.

You won’t feel smart, or capable, or “together” all the time. Most likely you’ll have plenty of ups and downs. At your lows, sometimes you’ll feel like a downright loser. Power through your confusion. Ask all the questions. Accept your nervousness and uncertainty. I saw people crushed by self-doubt in library school. It’s a really vulnerable time that doesn’t provide a lot of comfort, but know you’re not alone.

It’s okay to not have balance. The first time I read Zach’s post, I was so relieved. Ideally you want to have balance, of course, but I have found that that’s not always possible. There will be times when your life will be all work; you’ll bring it home with you night after night. This was definitely the case for me. But I knew that I was working toward something that would allow me to have a real life outside my work, so I felt that the temporary sacrifice was worth it. I can say now without a doubt that IT WAS.

Have unwaveringly high expectations for yourself. You select what these are and you enforce them. This doesn’t mean getting down on yourself for no reason, just push yourself according to your own set standards. There is so much that’s outside of our control as students and young professionals. Take control of whatever bits and pieces you can.

Know you will get rejected. Yeah, we all get that this happens but that doesn’t mean it helps us feel better about ourselves in the meantime. I think we all need to share our rejections more openly. Know that whatever it is, you’ll get through it.

Take the high road. This is something I am continually working on. Give people the benefit of the doubt. We all have complicated and messy lives behind the scenes. In particular, it’s tough to sniff out true sentiment on the internet. Things can seem snippy or severe when they’re probably not. (One reason why I make shameless, liberal use of emoticons!) The library world is small. Let’s just do our best to be kind to one another.

Introvert or extrovert out, as needed. This is what my partner tells me when I am overwhelmed and weary: “You need to go home and introvert out.” AKA the act of being alone, laying around, not staring at a screen, not engaging with the world. This refreshes me like nothing else. Maybe you need to go to a party and socialize. Whatever your need is, figure it out and grant yourself that fix. After I stopped feeling guilty that I couldn’t constantly interface with other human beings, my well-being increased dramatically.

The funniest part about all of these things is that I face them again and again and again in my post-library school life. I doubt myself. I falter in my goal-setting. I get ancy because I feel overexposed on the internet. I become crazed by work and bring it home with me, where thoughts about data storage rattle around in my head while I neglect my embroidery. Other days I fixate pointlessly, torturously on the future. I have struggled with finding friends, missing my faraway partner, and managing expectations at work and at home.

But you know what? My experience in library school taught me that at times, you feel totally overwhelmed and inadequate… but looking back, you’ll remember the good parts. So fully invest in yourself at whatever stage you’re in. Do the hard things because you’ll grow and learn faster that way. In the future, I anticipate that I will remember the excitement of taking up a new job, the rush of my first post-job interview presentation, and Madison in the summertime. It has been a pretty fabulous few months, all things considered. The less-than-fun aspects just kind of fade into the background.

What was your post-library school transition like? What advice do you have for current library school students?

Categories: Hellos & Goodbyes

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5 replies

  1. Brianna, I’ve been following your insights for at least a year now. And I’m seven weeks into library school You’ve had such amazing experiences, and seemed to do all the things, and made it look so easy. Thanks for the real talk. I can’t wait to hear about the things you do at UW!


    • Oh wow! You are so kind to call my rambling “insight”. But really – thank you, it’s awesome to hear that some of my posts have been valuable to you. If you ever want to chat, feel free to send me a message! Can you tell I love thinking and strategizing about librarianship career stuff? 🙂


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