By Susan Hoover


On Thursday, Nov. 7th, the New York Library Club co-sponsored a book and panel discussion at CUNY Graduate Center to celebrate the release of the book Career Q&A: A Librarian’s Real-Life, Practical Guide to Managing a Successful Career by librarians Susanne Markgren and Tiffany Eatman Allen. Sponsored by many other librarian organizations including METRO, ACRL, SLA and ARLIS, the panel featured the authors and a cross-section of contributing librarians with experience in many types of libraries – including academic, special, public and school – and offered an opportunity for the greater librarian community to gather to discuss career advice.

Markgren and Allen began writing together over ten years ago, co-authoring the popular advice column, “Career Q&A with the Library Career People,” now at http://librarycareerpeople.com. Though they met in-person only twice during that time, they successfully collaborated, including conducting a survey of librarians to inform their advice. Their book is a culmination of their work on the column thus far. The book’s structure roughly follows the path of a typical librarian career – from getting started, through middle career and even into retirement – and features Markgren and Allen’s advice as well as insightful sidebars from many contributor librarians.

The panel discussion was optimistic and motivational. Career suggestions offered by panelists and audience members included –

  • Don’t limit yourself to just being interviewed. Ask questions of the interviewer so you can tell if the job is right for you.
  • When seeking how your services can be useful to an organization, find the need.
  • Maintaining an online presence (through LinkedIn or an e-portfolio of your work) takes effort and diligence but can enhance your branding.
  • Even if you don’t manage people or resources, you can still be a leader. Leadership can exist at all levels. For more on an expanded concept of leadership, check out the book Leading from the Middle by John Lubans.
  • Look at every job as an investment, i.e. “I made a little money and learned some skills here, made a little more money and learned some other skills there.” When you take on an extra project at work you can set a deadline for yourself and resolve, “In 18 months, I will get a promotion or another job.”
  • Your experience as a librarian doesn’t have to end when you retire. If you wish, it can continue through volunteer work, mentorship and participation in ALA’s Retired Members Roundtable.
  • Take advantage of the generous spirit of the librarian community – apply for awards, develop skills through classes and volunteer opportunities, receive and give mentorship. Go to events and network “because the people you meet will help you find your next job and the job after that and the job after that.”

A quote that Markgren read aloud from the beginning of the book best exemplifies the energizing, inspirational mood of the event –

“When you plan your career path and think about what you want to achieve and where you want to end up, you need to consider other life goals as well, such as your family, location, personality, and abilities. It’s kind of like writing a book: You need to figure out what you want to include, attempt to organize and make sense of the various parts, gather external data and information, and start writing. And don’t forget to give yourself a deadline. Panic may set in: Who are you to plan out your life and have such lofty aspirations, to think you can achieve your dreams? Our advice is to own it, live it, learn from your failures or setbacks, and keep going.

So what are you waiting for? Go. Get started already.”

For more information on the book Career Q&A: A Librarian’s Real-Life, Practical Guide to Managing a Successful Career, visit http://books.infotoday.com/books/Career-Q-and-A.shtml.

This entry was posted in Career Advice, Mentoring, SILS students, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Pingback: The Best Career Advice | Unlocking Potential

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