Notes from the field #3

    Public v. Academic Libraries

Right now I have two library jobs. One as a Research & Instruction Librarian in an academic library, and the other as a Adult Services Library Technician in a public library. I love them both and have yet to choose what kind of Librarian I want to be when I grow up. I thought I would share with you some of the reasons I stay at both and why I am still struggling to decide what kind of Librarian I want to be.

Academic

One of my favorite aspects of working in an academic library does not appear in every academic library. I love the challenge. I currently work in an academic library within a school that focuses on engineering. Everyday is a challenge and the students here push me further every day. One minute I will be helping a student search for patents on non electric breast pumps and the next I will be attempting to help a group of students who are working on flooding problems in Thailand. The work here is immensely interesting and I love the experience I am getting here. This is my first professional job, and it is a lot of fun to encounter different types of librarians. This library is small, and I would LOVE to work in a large academic library to see the differences between large and small academic libraries. Maybe my next job will be in a large academic library, who knows.

Another reason I love working in an academic library is the students. College aged students are a lot of fun. Yes, you have to work on creating a professor barrier, and that is an entirely different post I don't know if I want to write, but getting to know the student workers, the students who love to do homework in the library, and the college environment is a lot of fun.

Public

Working in a public library is amazing. It is so rewarding to help someone find a job or helping a person find information about a long lost relative. Yes, I could feasibly do that in another kind of library but there is one thing only a public library can bring me. Every August the library gets inundated with young students who do not like to read but have to complete the required summer reading. This is my favorite time of year, because I get the chance to convert kids into readers. It is so much fun asking young boys and girls about their likes, then finding that perfect book for them. I have had dozens of parents come back and ask for more, telling me their son or daughter has never read a book with such enthusiasm and asking for another recommendation. It really makes me proud of what I do.

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Note that you can switch careers, that is not a huge deal in Library Science, but once you decide what kind of library you want to work in, most people stay in that kind of library for the rest of their careers.

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