Ten Rules for the New Librarians

I owe a mountain of inspiration to Karen Schneider for this one!

I’m working on the syllabus for my section of LIS701: Introduction to Library and Information Science for this Fall at Dominican. We’re using Rubin’s Foundations of Library and Information Science from Neal-Schuman and I’m adding a reading of The Cluetrain Manifesto as well. We’ll have articles and blog posts to react to and discuss. Putting this together, I’m reminding of a question I had last semester during one of our discussions of current library jobs and those 2.0 job descriptions.

“What do we need to pay attention to?” one of my students asked. “How do we get good jobs to do cool things and keep those jobs ..and move up?”

I have written about jobs in libraries, here at TTW and at TechSource. I often wonder about the new librarians we are sending out into the LIS world from Dominican and other schools. What do they actually encounter in their first professional jobs? I was drawn to the new hires at CPL last year because I wanted to know how it was for them.

All of this has been on my mind as I work with my current section of students this summer and plan for my full-time position in the fall. Submitted then for discussion is this short list — a cautionary list of things to ponder in a library 2.0 world (or whatever you choose to call it!) as new grads hit the streets and start their first jobs.

Ten Rules for New Librarians

Ask questions in your interviews. Hard questions, like “How many projects are on the library’s list right now?” or “What is the technology planning process like here?” Read this and remember!

Pay attention to the answers and what the librarians interviewing you say about their users. Are they dismissive, bothered by them and their presence in the library? Run away!

Read far and wide and immerse yourself in culture, pop and otherwise. It will help you know what your users are doing and into!

Understand copyright and the Creative Commons very well and understand what it means for our future content creation-driven culture.

Use the 2.0 tools, not because it’s cool, or any number of speakers/bloggers/librarian-geeks tell you to, but do it as one way to harness the collective intelligence of our profession. Grab some RSS feeds. Also do it to understand what spaces are users are moving in…creating content in…LIVING in. Create some custom searches of your interests in the field. Do not feel you have to subscribe to every LIS feed in the world. My advice? Find the news sites and the biblio-voices that speak to you and inspire you and follow them and their links. If you’re inclined, add your voice to the Biblioblogosphere. Or participate vis commenting — it’s a beautiful, though-provoking, ongoing conversation that welcomes everyone!

Work and Play nice with each other at your jobs, at conferences and in those places where information professional gather.This isn’t a competition or a contest. It’s not all about you, new grad (sorry, but it’s not). It’s about the user. And creating services. And being the best librarian you can be.

Manage yourself in a professional way but don’t forsake fun, wonder, curiosity or play. Use productivity tools of your choosing but be organized and follow thorough on the things you say you follow through on. Do not be that person in the meeting that says “I didn’t have time.”

Avoid technolust. Technology worship is a trap. Never let technology be a god in itself.

Listen to the seasoned librarians you encounter. They know things. Good things. Listen and they may inform your future decisions and planning. Learn from every conversation, meeting or water cooler chat. (And seasoned folk, listen to your new hires! You do the same: listen, learn and share… break down the generational divide present in some organizations…you’ll be happy you did!)

Remember the Big Picture. Don’t start 5 new HOT technology-based services without the foresight to plan how they will continue (and then flit on to the next thing). Understand budgeting, staffing and governing forces. Be mindful of hidden costs, marketing and how tech fits in to everything. Build services, collections and libraries that are sustainable, relevant to users and useful.