Thursday, April 14, 2011

Career in Librarianship

What do you think about when you hear "Librarian"? Do you think of a rigid lady behind a desk that is constantly shushing everyone? With thick glasses and pencil skirts? Well, I sure don't dress like that and I don't know many librarians that do. Librarians are awesome; did you know that we work in places like Pixar and Twentieth Century Fox? There are so many options for those that study Library Sciences. Currently, I am working towards my Master's Degree in Library Sciences at San Jose State University. I think a lot of you will be happy to know that it usually isn't necessary to have to take the GRE to get into a Library Sciences program which was a great relief for me. With so many career paths in libraries, the education, experience and skills requirements will vary from job to job. 

I got my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Arizona in Business, Sociology and Chinese. That might not seem like it’s applicable to Library Sciences, but the program welcomes people of all different backgrounds, in fact it is encouraged!  A lot of my classmates have BA’s in computer science, humanities, math and it’s all beneficial in working for a specialized library or a public library. I would like to work in a public library because I love to help people and libraries are great place to do that. During my internship, I got to host story time for toddlers, baby lap sit program, book discussion for the youth, answered patrons’ questions at the reference desk and help with computer lab for adults! All of them were so much fun and really opened up my eyes to how much the libraries provides for the community. Being in the Library and Information Science program is definitely not a cake walk. I have a hard drive stuffed with papers, group projects and study notes! Despite all the work, I love what I am learning. In my Materials for Children Ages 0-4, I had to read 75 children books and write a review about each of them for my final paper. Also, for one of my group projects our group had to run a mock library which entailed figuring out how to attract more patrons and how to better serve them. One of the most difficult classes I’ve taken but important is cataloging. I had the opportunity to practice cataloging: assigned Library of Congress subject headings to records including constructing and evaluating subject headings and learn the general skills in subject analysis that can be applied to any field or type of material.

Librarians can work in various setting such as public, academic, special, school, digital libraries. Public and technical services are two areas of traditional positions. If you like to interact with all types of personalities, then you may want to consider these types of positions: reference, circulation, document delivery and inter-library loan, education and outreach, children/young adult services and teacher librarian. However, if you like to work with computers and technical things that keep the library running then you may want to consider technical services positions. They work “behind the scenes” to make sure that the library and the services are not only working effectively but also properly. Cataloging and acquisitions, collection development and management, journals/special collections, information technology and systems are some of the positions for technical services positions. If you are those who are cut out to be leaders, then administrative positions are for you. They oversee the management and planning of libraries. Some of the duties include supervising library employees, negotiate contract for equipments, materials and services, preparing budget to make sure that everything function properly. After I finish my program, I aim to work in a public library because I am a people person, able to interact with all types of personalities, and can adapt in unpredictable situations.

What does it take to become a librarian? Well, a B.A., B.S. or associate’s degree in any field and a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from one of the 56 schools accredited by the American Librarian Association. At San Jose State University, it is a total of 43 units and most classes are 3 units each to complete the program. I hope you are excited about this field and surprised at the different possibilities that librarianship offers because I was when I first started this program. It does not matter what your background is or what skills you have or what your interests are, because anyone can find a place in the field of librarianship. 

Posted by JC
Spring 2011 Intern for the Youth and Extension Services Department