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“Nobody Dies”: Some Advice for New Professionals

We asked mid- and late-career information professionals what advice they would give themselves as a new librarian. Here is what they said:

talking-icon-small-web“Sometimes you can’t find the answer, and sometimes not finding the answer will help you clarify what the question was. So asking for help or clarification is not a sign of weakness and asking for help is not a bad thing.”

talking-icon-small-web“Something that I really struggled with from the get go, and something I still struggle with, is having a lot of people above you and feeling that they don’t listen to your ideas, that they don’t think your contributions are worthwhile, and feeling unsure if you are being taking seriously and even where you fit in as a new professional. I would go back and tell myself to relax a little bit more about that.”

talking-icon-small-web“You have to look out for yourself. You have to make sure you take the time to do what you need to do to stay sane. And not worry too much about the pressures of coming to terms with the profession, the pressures of timelines, the pressures of the teaching load, that sort of thing. Those things can give. I think it’s drilled into us to say yes to everything. We can say no to things, and we should say no to things. And we don’t have to say no to things only on the basis of a librarianship decision. We can say no to things because we’re burned out or because we have other priorities. We can say no to things for a whole bunch of reasons.”

talking-icon-small-web“Stay innovative and don’t be afraid to come out with your ideas or on ways to improve. The future requires you to be innovative and really think about what you’re promoting and what you have to offer people.”

talking-icon-small-web“My advice would be it’s great that you are an idealist and don’t ever lose that, but don’t let that make you politically naïve. I’ve learned that politics is everywhere. It’s not a dirty word, but pay attention. Pay attention to the politics of your institution, post-secondary education, labour relations, all of that stuff is good to know about. It was a hard lesson learned for me.”

talking-icon-small-web“Take part time jobs. Don’t say no. Always have a willingness to learn. Be willing to roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes. You can’t get caught up in, ‘I’m a librarian. I have a master’s degree. I can’t do this.’ You have to put in the time. You do things and build those connections and at times you may think, ‘what do this have to do with the library?’ but it will come back to support you. And doing those things will open new doors for you.”

talking-icon-small-web“I had an early career mentor tell me repeatedly ‘there are no bibliographic emergencies and don’t let anyone convince you there are.’ I think about that all of the time. We like to get quite fraught about things that aren’t really crises in libraries and ignore things that are potentially crises. I would have told myself when you get caught up in the moment, pull back and go ‘whoa whoa whoa. This is not a bibliographic emergency!’”

This Special Issue of Open Shelf consists of eight articles reflecting on the New Librarians Symposium held in June 2016. The Symposium focused on the issues, concerns, and aspirations of early career professionals.

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