What I Learned from Working in a Special Library

by Rebecca Kluberdanz, Senior Editor, INALJ MontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew Jersey,  New Mexico, and Wyoming

What I Learned from Working in a Special Library

REBECCA_KLUBERDANZ_NYSI’m sure everyone has an image in their head of their ideal job. Honestly, the job I have right doesn’t fit that image but I’m loving it anyway! I currently work in what I would consider a special library. I am the only librarian and archivist in a small creative design agency. We specialize in creating materials for high-end fashion brands. I may not have pictured working as the ONLY librarian anywhere but the experience has been very cool and I have definitely learned a lot.

Although I don’t have much to compare this experience too, I imagine that my role in this position is a lot different from that of someone who is working in a traditional library setting. I find myself doing a little bit of everything and jumping in wherever I can. So this may not be the traditional job I envisioned for myself but let me share with you some of things I learned here that I believe will definitely help me in future endeavors:

1. Never say no!
Sure, just like any job, there are times when someone asks me to do something and I REALLY don’t want to do it (removing all the books from the shelves and dusting….no thank you). BUT when I started this job I wanted to get the most out of the experience so even if I truly did not want to do something I threw myself into anyway. And I didn’t just half-heartedly complete a job…I worked HARD! This might not seem like a big deal but trust me when I say people definitely noticed. Other employees would comment on the work I was doing, how fast it was getting done and how great it looked! That validation felt so good in a new job where I was still trying to gain footing. Not only that but when a manager notices how hard your working they are more likely to include you in important discussions, which, to me, shows your worth! I definitely feel great when I’m approached to help solve a problem. I think it shows respect and trust.

2. Look twice at everything.
As I mentioned before, I work at a creative design agency. That means my boss, the creative director, is all about aesthetics. Although I enjoy when things are neat, orderly and pretty, he takes it to a new level. This means that whenever I do something I have to consider not only if I think it’s functional and organized, but how it looks. Does it fit the office aesthetics? It may seem silly but it has taught be something important. When I spend that much time looking over my work and observing my surroundings I’m not only considering the aesthetics, but I am considering the functionality of space more and more. So although this was originally about how pretty something was it turned into something completely different! I am constantly seeing things I can change to make the library space more usable for my co-workers.

3. Consider your audience.
Unlike some other libraries, the library that I’m currently working only really services between 20 and 25 people at a time. And of those 20 to 25 people there are probably only about 5 that use the library on a regular basis. Because of this we took to the opportunity to create a more simplified cataloging system. My co-workers are really look for visual inspiration fast so the library is broken down into super simply subjects like Photography and Art and we just label the books using the subject and the last name of the artist or author. I know this would be a huge “no-no” in a larger library but the truth is it works for this space! Why make things more complicated if they don’t have to be?

4. Never stop evolving.
I’m sure everyone has had a boss like mine at some point meaning when he wants something change, he wants it immediately. That is why I’m trying to constantly evolve my library space. I want to stay one step ahead of the game at all times so I’m there with a solution before he ever thinks of problem. This is relatively new school of thought for me. Before I was relatively happy to maintain the status quo and avoid change but not anymore! To keep my boss happy I’ve had to change my way of thinking and I am definitely glad I did. Looking ahead has definitely has had some advantages and I think I am making a better impression because of it!

So there you go! I may not have landed in the traditional library spot of my dreams but I am sort of loving this unique opportunity and I can’t wait to see what I else I can learn there!