Cressida Hanson, Cruise Ship Librarian & Success Story

Naomi House’s interview with success story Cressida.

Naomi:  How did you find your current job?
Cressida:  I actually first applied to this job while I was still in library school, and never got a response. I do not really remember how I again stumbled upon the notion of “cruise librarian” but I updated my application with my current resume (now with a year and a half of full-time academic library experience) and cover letter, sent it in, and received an email expressing equal interest a few days letter. It was an instance of good timing and persistence.

Naomi:  Favorite library you have been to?
Cressida:  Neilson Hays Library in Bangkok, Thailand. It is what you would imagine a colonial library in a foreign country would be. Founded in 1869, financed by membership, books shelved behind glass doors in dark brown cabinets; the only hint of modernity to the place is in the children’s section by way of red and blue beanbags. As an added bonus, there is the most fantastic café, run by Roadhouse BBQ, attached to the library.

Naomi:  Favorite book?
Cressida: Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. A dystopian tale before dystopian tales were popular. A futuristic tale (though only by a few decades) of the U.S. in environmental, social and political decline and growing religious extremism, narrated by Lauren Olamina, an eighteen-year-old Black woman who suffers from hyperempathy, a psychological condition that makes the “Sharer” experience the pain and pleasure others feel. Basically, if you enjoyed Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, you would enjoy this story.

Naomi:  Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Cressida:  As a librarian, interacting with the public and being perceived as the “keeper of all knowledge”. I love to read, but that is not the reason why I chose this career path. One of my favorite parts of working in a library is helping patrons locate desired information and resources. I also enjoy broadening patrons’ understanding of how libraries are “more than just books” by collaborating with non-library organizations when planning events. I consider myself customer service-oriented and recognize that the success of the profession is due to our interactions with patrons / users / customers.
And as a patron — honestly, borrowing books; my salary will never be able to support my reading habits.

Naomi:  Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Cressida:  For real-life examples of reference queries and working in the public libraries, read Swiss Army Librarian. For hilarious gifs accompanying common librarian ‘problems’, keep an eye on “Librarian Problems”.

Naomi:  Best piece of job hunting advice?
Cressida:  Job hunting is not a quick process. Understand that from the beginning and you are less likely to get frustrated. Start applying for jobs at least six months before you need it. And even if you are in a job, keep aware of the market. It is far better to apply a job, be offered it and have to turn it down, than get stuck in a corner desperately seeking one.

Also, keep your mind open during the job hunting process. I went into library school expecting to work in a public library as a traditional reference librarian, was hired upon graduation by an academic library to be in charge of programming and displays, and am now a librarian for a cruise line. Be as broad as you can be in your application hunting – you can be narrow in your acceptance.

I graduated from Simmons GSLIS in 2011 and am a 2012 Beta Phi Mu inductee. I earned BAs in English and Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin in 2006, spent a year in South Korea as an English teacher and then returned state-side to work as a bookseller at an independent bookstore. My success there, along with my personal love for and constant use of libraries, made me finally realize my career as a librarian. After graduation I was hired to be in charge of programming and displays at Kishwaukee College Library in Malta, IL, and am now the newest Librarian for Holland America Lines. My two main interests are (obviously) reading and traveling.

formerly published on 12/19/12 and entitled Cressida Hanson …Success Story

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