ILSS Book Club: The Librarian’s Career Guidebook

I’ll admit it: I hardly ever buy books. Fortunately, as a library school student, I feel like I’m supporting libraries, instead of just feeling cheap. At any rate, if you do end up buying one book about librarianship, this should be the one. This is not to say that the quality truly puts the other library career books I’ve read to shame – it’s just that this is a book you could pick up even before you start library school and still find useful years later when you’re in the middle of a career.

The Librarian’s Career Guidebook, edited by Priscilla K. Shontz (also check out this review by another MLIS student) is the longest of the books I’ve come across at 550 pages, but each chapter is written by a different author, and each one is quite brief. I love this format because it means that each topic is covered by someone who is an expert in that field; it also provides variety, and hearing the different voices helps to keep the reader’s interest.

As I already mentioned, this one really covers a lot of ground, from choosing a library program, to experience as an entry-level librarian, to experience as an experienced librarian. Of course, this means that not every article will interest you right now, but if you want to know what life will be like, you can always skip ahead and take a peek. And speaking of peeks, you can find a preview at Google Books.

The section on potential types of jobs covers some careers not covered in other books (unfortunately, the focus is very much on library-related work, so folks in other areas of information studies may be disappointed). Besides the usual suspects of public, academic, school, and special libraries, each of the following gets its own chapter: library consortia, library associations, LIS education (i. e., becoming a prof), vendors, publishing, and freelancing (bonus points for having an article by Jessamyn).

I was excited to see a whole section called “enjoying your career,” because I thought it would be especially appropriate to this blog, but it turns out to be about how to deal with the stress of being a librarian – oops! Maybe students trying to become excited about library school should skip that section.

I think everyone will find something useful in this book. Personally, I’m paying special attention to the chapter on which classes to take to prepare for a career, since it’s time to start thinking about September already.


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