I want to start this piece by saying how much I enjoy my career. The time I spent in the Library and Information Technology diploma program at the University of the Fraser Valley was enjoyable and I learned a lot both about myself and my future career.
As I started to prepare for the panel session at the 2015 BC Library Conference I found myself reflecting on what it means to be a library technician, the education we go through, and the careers that are open to us. This isn’t something I do regularly but found it be to a good “check in” with where I am in my career and where I might want to be down the road. Thinking about the intersection of the two qualifications (librarian and library technician) within the library profession is another topic that I spent some time thinking about, and the bigger picture of libraries.
Some of my thoughts on these subjects may not be surprising or unique. To echo a fellow panelist “we are one profession with two credentials”. If library technicians and librarians are working in the same field with the same goals, why is there this divide between us? Is part of it a simple lack of understanding surrounding each other’s skills, education, and interest? Going through school I was told to be prepared for some resentment and push back from my potential library colleagues. Are librarians given “the talk” about how technicians may be looking to “steal” their jobs? Why is this even a topic for discussion? Since we are all part of the same profession, there should not be this animosity; we should be working together within our institutions.
I have heard from librarian colleagues that there is a fear of de-professionalization. This fear in not isolated to the librarian career path, library technicians also worry and wonder about their chosen field. Looking at the job market and career opportunities can be depressing at times. While at ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) conference in Portland this past March, I heard many schools talk about using graduate students on the Reference Desk instead of trained professionals to reduce costs and give librarians more time for projects and individual consultations (disclaimer: these statements were from American schools). This came as a surprise to me since I know library technicians who are not given shifts on reference desks, a service point staffed solely by librarians and my first thought was “why wouldn’t you want a library technician hired to work on the desk to allow librarians to focus more time on other duties”. In addition to that situation, some libraries don’t require a technician diploma to work on a circulation desk, potentially taking jobs away from graduates of a library program. Similar to a newly graduated librarian, library technicians face a rough economy with libraries experiencing budget and staff cuts, and part time and/or temporary work. Technicians are worried about their careers, and the job market is topic of interest for current students and recent graduates.
What’s my point with that? Rather than drawing a line in the sand dividing our shared profession, we should be working together to strengthen it. We should be educating our managers, community, and stakeholders of the library about the similarities and differences of our educational paths. We should be highlighting how a library benefits from having both technicians and librarians on staff, and collaborate on making our work environments a welcoming place. Because, when you really come down to it, aren’t we all in this profession for the same reason?
“If I can only get an interview, they can see that I’m qualified and a good worker.” “Why aren’t I getting an interview?” “What’s wrong with me?” “Nobody wants me.” “Everyone else is getting a job, why not me?”
Those were just some my constant thoughts while deep in my job search. Sometimes I told myself to just shut up, get out of that world’s smallest violin attitude, and pull myself together. Back and forth I wavered between being down and trying to be somewhat optimistic.
I graduated from Langara’s LibTech Program in June of last year (2012). I did not find a job until a few months ago. The cool thing was that it turned out to be the perfect job for me. Seriously, it couldn’t be a better fit if I had to pick and choose it myself. Continue reading “A Journey Into Finding a Career as a LibTech”→
– Speaking of copyright, an avid Pinterest user began to explore the details of the site’s terms of service which states that users are liable for legal actions stemming from the act of pinning images that do not belong to them.
– This just in! Library saved from the graveyard! “The library was dying!” says Julie Hildebrand, recalling her feelings when she was promoted to the directorship of the Independence Public Library (IPL), KS
– Elsevier Publishing Boycott Gathers Steam Among Academics. Elsevier, the global publishing company, is responsible for The Lancet, Cell, and about 2,000 other important journals; the iconic reference work Gray’s Anatomy,along with 20,000 other books—and one fed-up, award-winning mathematician.
– Jonathan Franzen recently mistakenly stepped away from his day job to speechify saying eBooks are not for “serious readers”. Yet when his latest book (I feel it was a brick although I loved The Corrections) Freedom was published it was immediately available as an eBook on iBooks. You can read the dead tree lover calling the e-kettle black here. And the contrary view (thank you Sarah Felkar) here.
If you are a LibTech alumnus from Langara College or a current student, then you know Guy Robertson — the instructor who could give a lecture describing building evacuation techniques without putting students to sleep. Since 1993, Guy has taught library history, bibliography, and records management at Langara. He is a published author and writes articles about various topics including emergency preparedness, fraud prevention, information security, and records managements for Feliciter.
His relaxed and conversational teaching gives students a welcome reprieve from Marc 21 and bibliographic searching. I found myself looking forward to his lectures (even the one that ended at 9:30 pm).
Recently at the Cove, a popular pub in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood, I spent a couple of hours with Guy. We talked about his work, life and passions. Incidentally, the Cove happens to be one of his favourite pubs. He has frequented it since it opened in the 1970s. Guy is candid and amusing; he shared with me his passion for reading and for travelling in Britain.