A Library Job May Not Happen For Me

This is a guest post from Charly Stoehr.

In 2009, being at a crossroads with my current career ending, I decided to take some classes that I had always wanted to take just to see where my interests took me. I took poetry, creative nonfiction, drawing and film studies, to name a few. I applied for a national scholarship to study abroad and won. My undergraduate junior year began in Siena, Italy studying Renaissance art and Italian language and culture. After I received my BA in Art History, I began an MA in Public History, half-way through the program, I panicked about making any money at an actual career in public history and left the program to begin my MS in Library and Information Science.

Here I am, graduating next term with my MLIS. I have never worked in a library and have no volunteer experience. Not for lack of trying mind you, I have applied for at least three dozen positions- paid, unpaid, internship, contract, under qualified, underpaid- I have applied for it. I cannot give away my time, experience or skills. You see, I am an older student. I have years of customer service and management experience working in a bookstore. I have years of experience training and working with people with different abilities. I have years of experience working with computer programs and applications. I have marketable skills and experience. Not for librarianship apparently.

I just read the article, I Spent Years Preparing for a Library Job – It Never Came by Katie Mamrosh on the Hack Library School blog. The article brought on two conflicting emotions, one: relief that if she is having issues with all of her experience and resume padding then it isn’t just me and two: dismay that if she is having issues with all of her experience and resume padding then it is hopeless for me to find a library position. Unlike Katie, I am not young, I don’t have a long time to flesh out another career and the future does not seem bright for me and librarianship. I am not alone. In my library classes, I have met older students returning to school to begin new careers. We have shared our feelings of doubt and worry over entering a profession that is turning away graduates with years of experience and great resumes.

My back-up plan is to return to school and finish the MA in Public History that I started prior to library school. More education is a less desirable path for me but I do want to finish the degree I started and my career interest is in archives and public history collaboration. At this point, I am looking at jobs outside librarianship because to be honest the more I learn about the narrowly selective feature of librarianship positions the less I feel I want to be a part of it. I am looking at possibilities that lie outside librarianship and collaborations between the skills I have learned in all my experience and education across all disciplines. This is where my hope for the future lies.

Charly Stoehr is a second-year MLIS student at University of Denver, focusing on archives, digitization, and collection management. I have a BA in Art History from Portland State University and will soon be finishing my MA in Public History from American Public University. I live in Keizer, Oregon and when not studying I enjoy doing genealogy research,
hiking, drinking a good porter and traveling to warmer climates. I can sometimes be found at www.thebendingmoment.wordpress.com.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

1 reply

  1. I understand these concerns. I am also an older student returning for a Master’s degree after many years out of school. I left a decent job as an Admin Asst. to attend school full-time. While I have regrets about losing full-time income, I’m glad I made the decision to go back to school full-time and plan to graduate in May 2023. It’s been a fast program and I’m now stressing about the job search. I know I have good work experience but not enough library experience. I’d prefer to work in a library but now realize that I may not obtain a library job after completing my studies. I will, of course, apply for many library opportunities in different locations; however, a part of me feels this will not yield results because I have not been successful with internships or other part-time jobs in libraries. I’m trying to remain positive but feel that the library profession “cherry picks” certain people and the LIS/MLIS programs graduate too many people. If it does not work out with library jobs, I’m currently taking courses in Knowledge Management to diversify in business and other areas. Keep trying and hopefully someone will trust your experience. If not, don’t waste time & move on.


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