The 10 Year Mark
I graduated from library school ten years ago this month. Of my cohort of under-30s from when I started library school, two had graduated the semester before and MF and I finished up in December for January degrees. I did not walk that spring, the idea of going back and spending that much money at a time when I was supporting myself with a part-time job in New York seemed ludicrous.
I had a lot of problems with my program, though there were some highlights: the database design course, learning Dialog (blue sheets!), interning at NYPL Lincoln Center. Nearly all of the faculty have changed since I graduated, so I can’t speak to the program these days, though I’m sure it’s improved. Other than asking me for money, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to engage as an alumni.
Librarianship has changed a lot in those ten years already. It was during graduate school that I got my Gmail account– given out only to those with invites and highly coveted. Much of my communication with peers was via email lists (who else remembers NexGenLib and the various kerfluffles that led to it’s start?). Cell phones were ubiquitous but smart phones weren’t really yet a thing beyond Blackberries, which I perceived as only for email. Many of the tools I remember learning about or interacting with are gone or seem painfully unusable. Journals were moving towards electronic access but much of it was still heavily print based.
And yet much remains the same. Patrons want seamless access–whether that be print books shuffling around the NYPL system (still the best I’ve run across in terms of moving holds), getting electronic books (I was a very early Overdrive user), finding articles. Libraries are collaborating with their communities in new and innovative ways. Libraries and librarians struggle to find the right messages to demonstrate their value. We’re still working on equality of access to information and advocating for children to have access to librarians in their schools.
My own trajectory in librarianship thus far is not one I could have begun to project then. Work for CPL for 7 months and get a crash course in urban librarianship? Live in La Crosse, WI for 3 years and organize a several hundred person all day knitting event annually? Jump into a medical librarian career and teach dentistry students or write about open access and have regular research meetings with people in other states and countries?
I’ve met and worked with amazing people over that decade as well. Some are friends from those very early days of listservs; others keep showing up all the time. I’ve moved from being the newbie at every table to getting to make introductions. More of my friends are moving into management positions. Twitter and Friendfeed are an everyday habit–while I keep pruning the listservs I am still willing to subscribe to (when 3 in 5 messages is an ILL request that blatantly violates the policies of the listserv).
It’s unclear what librarianship will look like in another ten years. I don’t expect libraries to disappear nor do I think librarians will be unneeded, but I do expect a lot more change. While I assume now that I’ll still be in library-work of some sort, I assumed 10 years ago that I’d still be in New York and we can all see how that worked out. I have some goals and ideas and am working towards those, and I’m waiting to see what amazing surprises come next.
Ten years down…