On Positivity in Your Second Year.

Twitter brought me into librarianship. I’ve written about this before, and it still holds true today. I love the community of librarians that Twitter connects me with. But, an odd thing has started becoming evident in the last year or so on twitter. Maybe you have seen it.

Professional Librarian #1: I don’t talk to library students anymore

Professional Librarian #2: Why is that?

Professional Librarian #1: I don’t want to lie about the profession and jobs.

Whether you’ve seen this exact exchange I’m certain that many of you (if not all) have seen something similar either online or offline. It isn’t just libraries that sees this phenomena; if you listen carefully you’ll see current lawyers discouraging kids from going to law school or  humanities professors waving people off from grad school.

In short, there is a culture of pessimism in our field and our world.


We also like healthy social integration.

I’m almost at the end of my penultimate semester of grad school and library school. As I continue to apply for jobs, finish classes, and just stay on top of all of things in my life creeping negativity is always there hiding behind every goal. Because every time I finish something, either there is a new project or a new uncertainty on the horizon. Sometimes I let it get to me even if I’m aware of what disasters negativity can bring. Every hiring libraries post asks the same question…”Is Librarianship Dying?”

My answer is “well…with that attitude it is!”

If librarianship is just a bunch of worrying about librarianship dying, then maybe it is time for that kind of field to go ahead and fade away. So much of what we do on social media and in the classroom can be described as ruminating on the soonish death of librarianship around the corner. I’m not at all going to say that our job prospects are rosy, or the field isn’t changing, or that my library school isn’t avoiding the word “library” like the plague. But dwelling on these things is not helping me move forward toward the goal I sent when I enrolled in classes at the University of Illinois.

But the thing is, and this is something it took me a long time to figure out, is that I am here for a reason. I am in library school because of something in me that appeals to this field and to the future and present of libraries. You know what? You’re here because of that same drive.

I’ve seen a lot of people I consider friends in my program go down a road where there is no light at the end of the grad school tunnel. And I must admit that anyone who knows me knows that I have my own anxieties about my place in the field and, perhaps, in the world as well. I think it is important that when these feelings come up that librarians and library students remember that we are all in this together. You are not alone. I am not alone.

Feeling hopeless or that you made a mistake in choosing this field is not how we are supposed to feel. While the anxieties that me and my fellow second year students feel is sometimes a joking matter, it is real and something that we should understand. Instead of allowing our feelings of negativity about our futures, let us remember that we all have that anxiety and that we all are unsure about what tomorrow holds. My default position is usually gloom and/or doom.

But I want to remember and remind myself that we’re all in this together and we’ll all see it through to the end.

And when we get to the “promised land” of an actual library job…we should remember what it was like to be in our second year and in this valley of pessimism. When I’m a professional librarian I will not be pessimistic about new student or new colleague’s chances at getting where I am. Because while it may be a struggle sometimes in the contemporary economy, pessimism is not the answer nor it is the cure.

Go out there and kick some butt.

Categories: Honesty

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7 replies

  1. Thank you for writing this. I’ve been working (not in a traditional library) for 30+ years and one of the things businesses thrive on and employees fear are turnaround plans. When a new executive shows up and essentially changes everything (or at least threatens to). Nonetheless, the business emerges healthier because of changes (in processes, technology, people, etc.). I wish I saw more embracing the new graduates from different backgrounds and valuing the experiences they bring – instead of telling them, “you don’t have experience in a library”. Actually, that could be exactly what ‘the doctor ordered’.


  2. Thanks for writing this. I’ve often thought along similar lines but your advice to focus on the positive is exactly what we need! Librarianship (or whatever you want to call it these days!) should be focused on how to adapt and continue to meet needs rather than holding on to our old ideas about what libraries should be.


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