5 Things I’m Grateful For (Librarian Edition)

by Mary-Michelle Moore, Head Editor, INALJ Vermont

5 Things I’m Grateful For (Librarian Edition)

MaryMichelleMooreIt’s the end of the year – which means that it’s time to start reflecting on what has happened this past year and to start making plans for the upcoming one. It’s also the season to take reflection on what I’m grateful for. There’s a lot of troubling news floating around about being a librarian, trying to find a job in the field or the longevity of our usefulness, but it’s not all grim. I’ve put together a list of five things that are great about being a librarian in 2013.

Professional Organizations: Each organization brings some great things with it and every organization is filled with wonderful people who are potential mentors, comrades, networking connections or collaborators. Organizations give us an option outside of our workplace for connecting to the profession and a group of people with similar problems to reach out to for inspiration and advice. Many organizations offer scholarship money (both for school or to attend conferences), professional development opportunities and the opportunity to present work you’ve done that you want to share. If you want some suggestions of where to start looking to join a professional organizations, take a look at the three part article I wrote earlier this year on professional organizations both within and beyond ALA. Many professional organizations have a strong online presence as well – from live chats on Twitter to free webinars if you want to be part or an organization online or just meet someone in similar circumstances it can be done with a little digging.

Online Librarian Communities: Some online communities are extensions of professional organizations, but some are just groups of librarians sharing ideas with each other and offering community and support. If you can think of a current social media outlet, librarians are on it. If you’re on Tumblr take a look at the Tumblarians or Library Shaming. If you’re on Facebook try the INALJ Facebook Group or ALA Think Tank. On Pinterest? Try Library Interview Outfits (started by INALJ Missouri Head Editor, Tiffany) or just search “librarians” and see what pops up. There are librarians and libraries all over Twitter, including many INALJ Tweeters. Other options include GoodReads, LinkedIn or even list-servs of your professional organization. I’ve enjoyed volunteering for INALJ and I’ve only ever worked with most of my fellow volunteers online. If you are searching for a group to join it may already exist, if it doesn’t, start it and people will come.

Riddles and Puzzles: In college, I always loved doing the research for my papers but writing them was slightly less fun. Now, I get to solve problems, track down errant citations and generally solve riddles all day. While some problems are more challenging than others, at least I’m not bored and there’s always an interesting question right around the corner. I love that I’m in a profession that pays me to figure things out and do the fun part of research.

Learning new things: I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I will never know all the things, but that isn’t going to stop me from trying. All things electronic move and evolve so quickly and there’s always some new thing to explore or observe. I also love that there are many situations in libraries to wear more than one hat and do many different projects instead of always doing the same thing. Any piece of information could potentially be useful, so that means I can count the Scientific American Blog on dinosaurs as professional development, right?

Helping others: Libraries are about connecting people with information and the preservation of knowledge, which is one of the most powerful ways to help other people. I would not be happy in a position that did not allow me to contribute to the increased well-being of the world. One of the first things you learn when doing any sort of public service work is how to refer people if you don’t have the answer. Even if you have to send someone elsewhere, you’ve given them more information than they came to you with. It may be as small as the phone number or email address they can use to answer their question but if you can help them find what they can’t, hopefully it’s improved their day or situation.

What do you enjoy about being a librarian? I’m sure I missed some aspects since the list is short, please use the comments section to share what you’re thankful for about librarianship as a profession this year.