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Career Story: Manager Of The Collection Development Department For A Large Public Library System

Manager Of The Collection Development Department For A Large Public Library System

Job Title: Librarian

Type of Company: I work for a large public library system composed of 19 branch libraries serving a population of over 850,000.

Education: BA, History, University of North Carolina •• MLS, Library Science, University of North Carolina

Previous Experience: I started shelving books in a neighborhood library and got a series of promotions before deciding to attend graduate school. I've worked as a reference librarian, a branch manager, and now as manager of the collection development department for a large public library system.

Job Tasks: I manage the Collection Development Department for a large public library system. This department is responsible for selecting, ordering, cataloging, receiving, and distributing all books purchased. A great portion of my time is spent in project planning: new libraries, book circulation measures, assisting individual branches in marketing books, statistics for comparison and measures of success. I supervise a staff of 13 with the assistance of four professional librarians. Buying books for the community to read is as much an art as it is a science. There are concrete criteria to evaluate but there are also less tangible ideas of what will be successful and why. Very fun! It's important to have fun at work.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is helping people get to the books they want to read. It's exciting to learn more about a community and then find matches to that interest in books they are clamoring to read. But it's nice, too, to be working with people excited about their jobs, knowing their expertise counts and they are vital to the organization.

The worst part is not having enough money to purchase all the books I really wanted. I'm not at a branch library any longer and sometimes I miss that too.

Job Tips:
1. Take statistics courses.

2. Be able to sling spreadsheets.

3. Communication is a vital to relaying system goals.

4. Learn to enjoy conversations and exchanging ideas, and be ready to learn and to change. Listen more. Hear what others are saying and suggesting. They are smart too.

5. make yourself familiar with authors and their books. Be conversant with publishing news and cycles.

6. Get to know your community: its interests, local history, ethnic groups and economy.

Additional Thoughts: Get experience at the library branch level before seeking a system administration position. This will offer you credibility when you're discussing issues with the branch staff. Have a sense of humor and be willing to laugh at yourself and admit to mistakes. Enjoy brainstorming ideas and considering possibilities rather than hard and fast rules.

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