This week I turned in my last assignment for my last course for my MLIS. After more than two years, it’s all over except for the final paperwork. Now that the initial excitement and celebration has passed, (Yes, there was bubbly involved!) I am feeling more reflective. It’s time to sit back and take stock of what I’ve learned, where I’ve been, and figure out where I’d like to go now.
I started the process of earning my degree because I was volunteering in a library, learning librarianship on the job thanks to a wonderful mentor, and realized I absolutely loved what I was doing. For much of the time I was taking classes, I was also working in a library setting, first as a volunteer, later as a paid employee. My experiences in the library enriched my course work and my course work improved my performance on the job. I believe that combination of practical experience and theoretical knowledge has made me a better librarian.
But what, specifically did I learn? First, I learned the core values of librarianship and got to see how to apply them in my day-to-day work with the public. I also learned that it’s not always what you know, but the questions you ask. One of the best things about my classes was that they pushed me out of my comfort zone to try new things, like creating a wiki or starting a blog. They changed the way I think about information in this digital age. But my work in a real library reminded me of how many people are being left behind in the rush to go digital. I learned that I am interested in information literacy, love working in Youth Services, but that I also love working in a setting where I get to participate in all aspects of library service. I don’t want to only work at Youth Services desk. I also miss working in a military library. I have spent so much of my life associated with the military and working with military families that I enjoy being in that atmosphere.
So, where do I go from here? My options are constrained because we really don’t want to move again. I’m currently working in a paraprofessional position, primarily as a sub. I have a few stray regular hours every month spread across three different branches. It really makes it hard to feel like a part of any one branch. I’m just not there consistently enough. The uncertain schedule of subbing is also starting to get stressful. A full time professional librarian position, especially at a military library, would be ideal. I’d be excited to get a part-time professional position. I’d even be content with a part-time paraprofessional position with consistent hours and the chance to become a real member of the team at one library. But the reality is that I will continue with my current position, accepting the uncertainty and hour-long commute because I simply can’t bear the thought of not working in a library. Meanwhile, I’ll continue my professional development. I’ll try to set a regular schedule for writing blog posts and book reviews and for exploring other tools of the trade. My next project will be learning basic web site design and construction. I’ll probably also keep in practice with reference, especially digital reference, by volunteering at the Internet Public Library and joining the movement to build a librarian presence on the various Internet question sites.
And I think I’ll indulge in just a bit more celebrating!