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Career Story: University Librarian

University Librarian

Job Title: Librarian

Type of Company: I work for a university library.

Education: BA in linguistics, Bryn Mawr college; MS in Library Science anticipated December 2009, Simmons College

Previous Experience: I worked in several libraries in college for work-study.

Job Tasks: My main job goal is to keep our 1.5 million books in the right place. More specifically, I hire, train, and manage our student shelvers, plan and implement moves when parts of the collection need to be moved, and pester patrons when they don't return books.

I also work on the reference desk, answering questions from our university patrons and others across the country through an online service. I work with several other librarians to supervise the main desk and take care of any issues that come up, which range from leaky ceilings to angry patrons to broken printers. I do quite a bit of actual moving around of books myself when I have a complicated move planned or when we have too many book returns for the students to handle themselves.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I love being able to help people learn how to use the library or find resources for a paper or research that they're doing. It's also very satisfying to see the books end up back on the shelves after the chaos of end-of-semester returns. But conversely, it's frustrating that book returns never end -- it's a project that never has a nice clean finish. Currently, one of the worst parts of the job is that we don't have enough funding anymore, so nobody has enough student help or money for special projects, yet we have to get everything done anyway.

Job Tips:
1. Volunteer or do a work-study position in your campus or public library.

2. If you're considering doing reference work, take as many languages and interesting academic electives in college as possible, to get a broad range of background knowledge -- this is an excellent career if you're the sort of person who absorbs random trivia.

3. Depending on the job market, it can be very difficult to find a full-time job in the area you're interested in before you have your master's degree, so take anything that looks palatable. Many libraries have a lot of internal movement options once you get your foot in the door.

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