Seven years of librarianating

So I looked up the other day and realized that I’ve been a professional librarian for seven years now.  Wow. How did that happen?

I got my degree in May of 2004; spent two years working at a Fellow at the NCSU Libraries; moved to South Bend and worked for a year as a CWIL Fellow; took six months off to have a baby; and now I’ve been in my current position for three and a half years.  Which all adds up to seven years, if you do the math.

So that’s a lot of why I still feel like a relative newcomer to the profession: I’ve only just started to get my feet under me in my current position (and the brass ring of tenure is still almost three years away), and the three and a half years I’ve worked here is the longest I’ve held any job, ever.1

I also hang with a pretty ambitious and talented bunch of librarians, some of whom are widely-recognized experts in their specialties and sub-specialties, so my relative lack of recognition and expertise contributes to my own sense of Judy-come-lateliness.2 I’m constantly surprised that people who I think of as, if not senior librarians and mentors, then at least role models, actually got their library degrees after I did: people like Jason Puckett and Dorothea Salo.

Then there are my classmates from UNC-Chapel Hill, Jason Griffey (Head of IT for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga library and ALA/LITA tech-blogger-dude) and Jean Ferguson (Head of Reference at the Perkins Library at Duke).  Jenica Rogers (Director of Libraries at SUNY-Potsdam) has been a librarian longer than me, but thanks to the expedient of not dithering around for six years obtaining a completely useless graduate degree (as well as a lot of hard work) she’s both a library director and much younger than me.3  Iris Jastram is also simultaneously younger than me and a more senior librarian.

Put all this together with the fact that I’m the youngest librarian (and newest hire) by a considerable margin at my current library, and you can begin to understand how confusing it can be to realize that, hey, I’m maybe not such a n00b any more.

  1. I realize that, at my age, this doesn’t paint a very flattering picture of my previous work history. It doesn’t bother me much.
  2. For the record, I am perfectly okay with my relative lack of recognition.  If I were the kind of person for whom ambition and recognition were important, I’d’ve stayed with the NCSU Libraries, where such are highly valued.  But that’s not me, and I’m better off where I am.
  3. Actually, I can top that: in 2005, while I was still in my first professional position, I went to ALA in Chicago and ran into a woman who I’d known as an undergrad while I was doing my first graduate degree. She was a library director too, way back in 2005!

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