My interview with In the Library with the Lead Pipe’s Emily Ford
Naomi: What is your dream job and why?
Emily: It’s hard for me to come up with a dream job. Maybe I’m too based in reality that was the slow start to my stable employment, which consisted of jumping fromtemporary job to temporary job for the past four years. For so long just having a permanent job (one with a line item in the budget and one I didn’t have to worry about whether or not my contract would be renewed each term) was the dream for me.
Recently In the Library with the Lead Pipe’s own Brett Bonfield described three ideals of good work in his post Perspective and Doing Good Work:
- “ You feel so passionate about it that it doesn’t feel like work.
- It does so much good for other people that you can’t help but feel good about yourself for having done it.
- It gives you a chance to work with people you admire.”
And my dream job is just that: doing good work. I am fortunate to currently be in such a position.
Naomi: What blogs should we be reading?
- ALA Washington Office’s
- And if you have time read James Grimmelman’s The Laboratorium
- And I also visit and BoingBoing with the most regularity.
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Emily: The Reed College Library. Because it is the library of my alma mater. Because it houses my Senior Thesis. Because it’s a beautiful building that I never fully appreciated as a student. And also, because never before had I seen any community hold its library in such reverence until I attended Reed–and I’m not sure that I have since. It is a unique community that truly values and respects the library it has.
Naomi: Favorite book(s)?
Emily: I’m no good with favorites as I’m no good with dreams. But the following two books are inspiring to me in that some day I will write a book discussing their intersection
- Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks.
- Humanism and Libraries: An essay on the philosophy of librarianship by Andre Cossette; recently translated into English by Rory Litwin.
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries?
Emily: Libraries are the seeming last socialist institution in the United States. I went into librarianship because I wanted to be part of a profession that supported intellectual freedom, privacy, egalitarianism, and were forward thinking to support social justice and social change. While this may seem like naive idealism, I still firmly believe that libraries have the potential to continue being all of these things.
Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Emily: Keep your passion. Being on the job market (especially right now) isn’t tough, it’s grueling and disheartening. The tenuous nature of my employment over the past four years and my continuing job search broke my spirit more than once, but the thing that kept me going was having projects and colleagues that kept calling me back to my passion for libraries and library work.
Sometimes getting a job is more about luck, the seemingly arbitrary nature of hiring committees, and good timing than anyone would like it be. Continue to be true to yourself: do what you do, don’t lose sight of who you are or what you want. If it means you are unemployed or underemployed or working as a barista, so be it. “Keep the dream alive!”
After finishing the dual MLS/MIS degree program at Indiana University in 2007, Emily immediately packed up and made the long trek back home to Portland, Oregon. Since then she’s worked in 4 different libraries and had 9 different jobs. So far the most consistent thing in her career has been serving as a co-founder, editor, and writer for In the Library with the Lead Pipe. If she hadn’t gone to library school, she may have become a chef or a bicycle bum.
Photo credit Jake Shivery