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.