*Cardigan Mafia: Library Life

“You work in a library? How wonderful! You get to read all day and enjoy the quiet!”

“You’re going to GRADUATE school to be a librarian? Why?!”
The above quotations I hear regularly and it can be difficult to explain to someone in 15 seconds what library science embodies. I’m going to try to use this space to explain library work as best I can.

I have worked in an academic library for almost 13 years and over a week ago I finished my first semester of study for my Master in Library and Information Science. Throughout my time in library land, I’ve realized that stereotypes work against those of us in libraries; no one knows what the hellfire we do. The public imagines lots of shushing and shelving and I’m sure people realize the big picture things like literacy, access to books, programming, etc…. But what do we actually DO all day?


I thought I’d periodically share what’s going on at my workplace and what I’m working on and talk about my studies. Keep in mind that there are many different types of libraries and even more variety in job descriptions. I’m describing my work and studies focusing primarily on academic (that means in a university) libraries.


At work: This week is all about catching up from last week. Last week we had several big meetings about strategic planning, scheduling, and other library issues and I hosted a pop-up library at faculty retreat. I loaded the mini-van up with 75 books from our new books area and toted them to the location of our faculty retreat. I handed out door prizes, recommended books, and distributed surveys to gauge faculty information and service needs.


While doing pop-up library I got backlogged on everything else. This week I am handling all of our interlibrary requests for research, brainstorming new classroom space, drafting a new job description, filling out reference forms for former student employees, participating in a university-wide training, and reviewing some policy documents for our state library association.


At school: Over the spring semester I took two courses, Foundations of Library and Information Science and Management of Libraries and Information Centers. In addition to gobs of readings and discussion posts, I worked on several lengthy projects. In Foundations I completed a job ad analysis project, a group project on library ethics, and a literature review on using Twitter to promote library services in an academic library. In my management class I wrote several case studies, worked on a group strategic plan for an academic library, and did a management consultancy project working with the county public library on outreach to Latinx immigrants.


My new courses start tomorrow. I’m taking Information Sources and Services, which will focus on reference and research. This class will last 11 weeks and runs from tomorrow until the end of July. My other course, Rare Book Librarianship, begins in early June and will end in late July. Both summer courses have 16 weeks worth of material compressed into shorter class lengths. To say I’m nervous about getting everything done is an understatement!
*the term “cardigan mafia” is shamelessly stolen from Thomas at Hogglestock.

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