What They Didn’t Teach Me in Library School: How to Find My Balance
Librarianship is one of those professions is more of a calling than a job. Requiring at least a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, countless continuing education credits, thousands of hours of reading on personal time to familiarize yourself not only with your collection but also with new materials, and keeping up with latest trends in technology and culture, librarianship is not for the faint of heart, or for those who “just want to read all day.”
Karen’s Two Cents: As time goes on, I think most people learn to be better at this. Without a doubt the higher up the ladder you go, the more they expect you to work outside the time clock. This can be a double edged sword and I recommend that you help your employer develop appropriate staffing levels by being honest about the work you do. When you take work home and work off the clock, your employers can fail to see that they may need to hire additional support staff. Learn how to organize your time and make a professional case for your time management needs. As Christie said, learn the fine art of saying no. And of prioritizing. For example, in April and May, SRC planning and promotion takes precident – all other activities are gravy. Say it with me no, no, no, no, no. You know you’re saying yes. I have especially seen the importance of this as budgets have been slashed in the past few years due to economic times. Libraries are important – vital – and it is our job to be advocates for libraries and for youth services in those libraries. That means advocating for appropriate staffing as well.
Karen’s Two Cents: Some workplaces pay for your membership into professional organizations and some do not. At this point, I have had to let me professional membership into ALA drop, which breaks my heart. The reason? When we moved and I got a new job the library is now replacing all full time people who leave with part-time people so they don’t have to pay benefits (Everyone’s doing it – yay for the economy!). So, after 19 years as a professional librarian – with an MLS degree – I only work part time and all my professional development expenses come out of my own pockets. Although, to be honest, librarianship like education, is one of those professions where you spend a lot of your own time and money out of pocket. I have bought books, display materials and ,yes, program materials out of pocket – even in the times where libraries we’re better funded. However, professional involvement is still really very important so find ways to make it work. Be active in listservs, read blogs, seek out online webinars, etc. Don’t forget to read your School Library Journal and VOYA. Especially in tough times, libraries matter and we want to be relevant and top of current trends and changes so that we can serve our public well. Be involved some way.
Karen’s Two Cents: In many ways, I am obviously not very good at this. I am passionate about this blog which, while technically is in no way affiliated with my job, is still a part of my “work”, the work of librarianship. But I will ask people to do guest blog posts, I have learned to schedule posts . . . the big thing for us librarians is that in many ways, even when we are reading because we love to read (which I do daily), it is also in some ways our “work”. So I’ll have to get back at you on this one as I try to get better at it. I have never left work at work.
Karen’s Two Cents: When the tween was 3 years old, she got incredibly sick. It was devastating to see and no one knew what was wrong with her. When I called off for the 3rd day in a row, my boss gave me an incredible guilt trip and I found someone to watch her for 2 hours while I went in before what would turn out to be her 5th doctors visit in 5 days. At that visit, they told me that she had a life threatening illness called Kawasaki’s disease and told me to take her to Children’s Hospital immediately – after they did a test to see if her heart would be okay for the trip. From that moment on, I have lived my life very differently. The tween spent 2 nights in the hospital basically having her blood cleaned, she walked around for 2 months like an 80 year old with arthritis, and spent the next 3 years having routine heart checks. It’s really important that you take care of health issues and hopefully your work has an environment that supports that. If not, start a professional, polite and yet informed campaign for a work environment that supports a work/life balance. Healthy employees with healthy families are productive employees.
Previous entries in Things I Never Learned in Library School
Where’s My Library School Class for This? with Christie G.
10 Things I Never Learned in Library School with Karen J.
These are a Few of My Creepiest Things with Christie G.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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