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Career Story: Young Adult Librarian

Young Adult Librarian

Job Title: Young Adult Librarian

Type of Company: I work for the Boston Public Library, which is part of the City of Boston.

Education: BA, Geography, Vassar College •• MS, Library and Information Science, Simmons College

Previous Experience: I started as a word processor and database administrator for a bio-tech company and happened to become responsible for organizing the intellectual property of the company. At the same time I was volunteering monthly at a used book store. When I left and moved across the country I knew I wanted a change and did a survey of my options. I started working regular shifts at the circulation desk of my local library while I gained full time work as a staff assistant at a major university. After 6 months, the University covered 75% of my tuition in the graduate program where I obtained the masters (required for any public librarian job). Upon graduation I became the head of technical services and information systems for a suburban library. In this position I lead a department responsible for the acquisition and physical processing of all the materials the library lends out. I was also responsible for all the maintenance of all the computers in the library. I also helped out regularly on the public young adult and children's librarian reference desks. I moved from this job to my present job as a young adult librarian in a very active branch of a large urban library.

Job Tasks: My primary job responsibility is to help teens get the most benefit from the Boston Public Library. The branch where I work (in the Mattapan neighborhood) has a dedicated teen room which I run. We have 12 computers for teens to use and I help with computing questions and mostly help make sure teens get as much time as possible to use them. We also have a dedicated gaming room which I supervise. We have almost daily drop-in gaming events with our PS2 and Wii consoles.

I have a budget from which I select new books, graphic novels, manga, DVDs, CDs, and video games to add to the library's teen collection. I also pick which items to remove from the collection because they are no longer serving the needs of our teens. I create displays of books and other items to help highlight certain themes within the collection. I manage the teen bulletin board to present current information to the community.

This summer I'll be running the teen summer reading program which is designed to keep teens reading while school is out of session. I'll be offering prizes in return for book reviews.

I participate in regular meetings with teen librarians across the city and the state to figure out together how we can best meet the needs of our communities.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: My favorite part of this job is working with the teens who use the library. The personal relationships that I've developed are really rewarding. It's just great to develop a bond with these kids and help them as they navigate all the changes that are happening in their lives. I also really enjoy being surrounded by books, DVDs, CDs, video games, the graphic novels - all the things people think of when they think of libraries. I love being able to share all these cool things with people for free.

The worst part of the job is dealing with people who take advantage of the system. There are people who don't respect others' right to enjoy the library and instead do stupid things, like leave their trash lying around, stick gum in inappropriate places, rough-house with each other, steal or damage library materials, etc.

Job Tips: Talk with different people within libraries and think about what type of library work you want to do. There are a lot of different types of library jobs. They range from academic researcher positions to public children's librarians to technical cataloging, to archiving rare manuscripts.

Use library science as an excuse to study whatever it is that you're interested in. There are relevant applications to just about any intellectual pursuit, from a love of the outdoors and nature, to video gaming. I had a professor who made a career piecing together a love of horses (he was a farrier - someone who shoes horses), Appalachian dulcimers, and sailing. Because the field is so broad, try as many different types of library work as you possibly can while you're in school. Don't be afraid to try something completely new as you may find you love it.

Get involved in the larger world of librarians. Join a state, regional, or national organization (there are several) and help out. It's a great way to meet other people who will help give you ideas for how you can improve your performance and also help introduce you to other job possibilities for your future.

Additional Thoughts: I have not yet worked in a quiet library. As a matter of fact, the room in which I work is regularly quite loud. There's a lot more to libraries than just books. If you're not an active public library user you should make it a top priority to get to your local library and find out what they have to offer.

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