ILSS Book Club: The NextGen Librarian’s Survival Guide

Today’s selection covers many of the usual issues covered by library career books, but it tackles the issue of how today’s young recent grads relate to the library world. The NextGen Librarian’s Survival Guide by Rachel Singer Gordon is a recent (2006) book that draws advice from interviews with librarians as well as responses to a pair of surveys: the Under-40 Survey and the Over-40 Survey. The results of these surveys are used to compare how younger and older librarians feel about the role of young librarians in the field today.

For the purposes of the book, Gordon declares “NextGen librarians” to be those who are part of Generation X and Generation Y – that is, anyone born between 1965 and 2000 (though these dates are up for debate). Now, even assuming that we’re not really talking about 8-year-old librarians, this seems like an awfully wide age range to me. I’m not convinced that information professionals in their early forties have more in common with those in their early twenties than with those in their early fifties, but naturally it’s difficult to accurately capture a generational trend.

A brief chapter on “Surviving Library School” directs the reader to some appropriate online resources and gives helpful advice on how to make the most of your time as a student. Gordon emphasizes the importance of becoming involved with professional associations and gaining work experience before graduation.

Subsequent chapters include “Surviving the Job Hunt” and “Surviving Entry-Level Positions.” Each starts with a list of bullet points outlining the issues unique to NextGen librarians, but the vast majority of the content would be useful to students and recent graduates of any age. Maybe my generation is so self-absorbed that we can’t imagine anyone having different patterns of thinking, but in general I feel that this book is more about students graduating in the 21st century than it is about professionals who were born in a certain era. At any rate, I found it to be helpful, and I would recommend it to all current students and recent graduates.

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