A New Chapter

During the last two years that I have been writing for Hack Library School, and serving as Managing Editor for most of that time, I have often thought about what my farewell post would look like. What would I talk about, and where would I be? I knew this past year that I would be likely be in one of two places: either 1. staying in my current position and beginning a MA in art history this fall, or 2. starting a professional position.

My experience in library school was positive, and I’m glad that I pursued this path. But I’m going to be honest: the field of librarianship is highly competitive, and downright frustrating at times. When I began library school in January 2013, I enrolled in an online program and did not have a library job, although I did work full-time. I spent over 1.5 years searching for a paraprofessional position, willing to take a cut in pay for the experience, to no avail. Either I was too inexperienced (in one case, the person who got the job had over 20 years of library experience) or I wasn’t even contacted for an interview. I am so grateful to Hack Library School for being such a wonderful community, especially when I was having a hard time feeling connected to the field.

I finally got a library job last summer when the Director of Visual Resources position opened up in the art department where I worked. This position is classified as staff, but manages the Visual Resources Center, a teaching and learning center that serves faculty and students in the arts. As luck would have it, I was also offered a paraprofessional cataloging position at the same time, but I could not pass up the opportunity to direct my own departmental library. When I graduated in May of this year, I had a stellar academic record and several presentations, book reviews, committee involvement in professional organizations, and a publication on my CV. Although I had a job, I thought I would attempt the academic job market this summer. I had a few on-campus interviews for academic library jobs, but nothing worked out. Admittedly, I was very selective – probably too selective – about which positions I applied to, but a failed search is always disappointing. I think it’s best to be honest, admit our rejections, and support one another during the difficult job search.

Even though my search for a professional position this summer didn’t quite work out, I’m still really excited about my next chapter. As an art librarian, it’s very important to have the MLIS and a master’s degree in an art-related discipline, so I’m enrolling part-time in the MA in art history at the University of Georgia this fall. I anticipate this degree will take approximately 2-3 more years and after completion of the MA I plan to actively look for a professional position. In the meantime, I have an endless list of projects for my Visual Resources Center and I’m excited that I will have a few more years to accomplish these goals. I plan to remain professionally active. I am looking forward to a few local conferences this fall, and I’m especially excited for the joint ARLIS/NA and VRA conference in Seattle next spring, and will likely be able to attend ALA Annual next summer since Orlando is within driving distance. This summer I have been able to spend more time working on personal interests, such as ballroom dancing, playing board games, and participating in a Jane Austen book club. I’ve been giving my library card a workout and reading as much as I can. Life post-MLIS has been pretty great.

2 replies

  1. Congratulations Courtney! I too have put my library card to good use. What a quirky paradox that we miss out on the simpler things of library life while in library school. Wishing you all the best in your new role!

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