This week marks the beginning of my final year of graduate school. If all goes well, I will graduate in December and walk the following May. So far, it has been rewarding, challenging, exhausting, and difficult to balance with a full time job as well. Like others, I too have suffered from imposter syndrome, wondering if I am doing enough, whether my degree will matter and where or if I will land in a public library after thirty-plus years in an academic one.
Much of my unease comes from years of working in a profession I love, without the degree. Instead of all being one big team, there has been and is still a divide between librarians and staff. In spite of my growing responsibilities and knowledge, my knowledge without that piece of paper has never been enough to advance in any significant way.
Yet instead of just pursuing an academic library degree, I have chosen to pursue youth librarianship. Much of this is due to the aspect of my work that I value the most, working with undergraduate and graduate students, supervising them as they work in my library, but also helping them with their research. But given my age (well over 50) and my many years of working in an academic library, I will have to work doubly hard to sell myself to a public library who is looking for someone to lead their youth program.
In spite of these obstacles I am hopeful. Perhaps it is because I have had a little rest, was able to read some excellent unassigned fiction over the holidays, and get a little baking done too. A trip to the ocean with my partner, fun times with friends and family, and through it all the praise and support from all of them for making it through this first year.
Young people need librarians. To help them navigate the overflow of information coming at them at all times. To assist with papers, and jobs, and college applications. To point them to relevant history books, fiction and science that will guide their thinking and perhaps spark a love of a subject that turns into a career.
I do believe I can eventually work in a public library. It may not be until I have retired from my current position, but I am ultimately at peace with this. In the meantime, I am learning many skills that are enhancing the work I do with my students each day and having richer conversations about authors they like and music they listen to. So, my hope for 2020 is that we all have a good year, scholastically, and professionally. But if by any chance you know of a publisher that wants to fund a librarian to run a bookmobile up and down the Maine coast, or a public library who doesn’t mind a Vermonter for a youth librarian, send them my way.