Interlibrary Loan Librarian
Charles C. Sherrod Library, East Tennessee State University
When I graduated from library school, I thought I knew just about everything. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt that way. You’re fresh out of school with new ideas and the confidence that comes with a shiny, new master’s degree. You think you’ve learned everything about libraries, and that nothing will stand in your way of becoming the librarian you’ve dreamed about. Then you get your first job and you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. Library school may teach us theories and models, but there are some very important things that it cannot teach us.
On the surface, there haven’t been that many changes in my progression from library assistant to Interlibrary Loan Librarian. Yes, I now have tenure requirements and I have more responsibilities, but my everyday work is basically the same…for now. I know I’ll have to teach library instruction one day (that scares me a little), but teaching styles can be learned and tweaked over the coming years. I’ll have to join committees and learn to mingle with my fellow faculty members. One of my worries as a new faculty member is that since I look young enough to be a student, is anyone going to take me seriously? I keep waiting for someone to tell me that students aren’t allowed to park in staff/faculty parking spaces, but that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe I’m worried for nothing. Maybe it’s all in my head. If I know what I’m doing and have the confidence to support myself, then I should be OK, right? The best part of my job is knowing that I have played a small part in the research that is being conducted on my campus. When a graduate student or faculty members tells me that Interlibrary Loan helped them acquire exactly what they needed for their research, all my worries fade away. This is what it’s really about.
During the first few months of my new job, I thought everything was going swimmingly until we had our first few faculty meetings. Whoa – I didn’t know of or understand half of what was being discussed. Names were being thrown around of people whom I’d never heard of nor laid eyes on. Computer programs that used to be on the computers but were no longer there had me scratching my head in confusion. Events that happened many years ago, or just six months ago were foreign to me. I remember thinking, “Hmm, I wonder if there are videos of past faculty meetings to watch so that I can catch up…” Yeah, no. This isn’t cable television where I can just set my DVR and catch up later. My job is to find out everything I can about what has been done in the past, and what we are doing now. Are there things that have worked for us in the past that are no longer working? This is where my co-workers come in. I’m thankful that I work with a great group of people who are willing to sit down and talk about library matters with me. For a new librarian, this is essential. I am even lucky enough to have a mentor – someone who is already tenured, and has the experience to help me achieve my career goals. She has helped me come up with ideas for presentations, poster sessions, and even articles for future publication. If I could give new librarians one piece of advice (and this goes for any type of librarian: public, academic, school, etc.), it would be this: find someone who has been where you are and pick that person’s brain. Oh, and one more thing. Just because you have that shiny, new master’s degree doesn’t mean you know everything. Keep learning. That’s what makes a good librarian a great librarian.