Your Move: What’s ahead in your library career?

I had a friend once that asked me: what’s your five-year plan? He said – if you don’t have one, you’re going to be in the same place five years from now.

I thought about that. And then I got myself a five-year plan. In fact, my plan now goes longer than that. If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there? 

Especially in library-land. What do you want out of your career? Do you want your MLS? Do you have your MLS and want to be a librarian? Are you a librarian and you’re unsure where you’re going next?

These students are figuring it out. What about you?

Get a plan. The plan will change, but it’ll keep you moving.

First – what do you want to do? Are you happy where you are, or do you want a change? The library school at San Jose State has a solid library career development website. The Occupational Outlook Handbook has a page listing careers in Education, Training, and Library Occupations. The SimplyHired blog offers Top Ten Tips for Planning Your Career.

Many library staff decide that they want to pursue an MLS. That’s a big decision! Think about what you would accomplish with your MLS. Odds are very good you’ll be accepted to library school, but think hard about what you’re going to do post-MLS, especially if you’ll be in debt for it. The job market is improving, but library careers can be very competitive.

Still, there are success stories. American Libraries has advice for Toughing it Out in a Tight Job MarketMr. Library Dude offers job hunting advice for MLS candidates. Hint: figure out your career BEFORE you graduate. Also: experience, experience, experience!

Common advice is that “geographic flexibility” will be required if you want career advancement. ProQuest offers that and more advice on how to snag a library job.

As for right now: be a great employee, do good work and network with colleagues. Give and get great references. Be happier at work. Read awesome job blogs, like Alison Green’s Ask A Manager. Green has FANTASTIC advice on writing resumes and interviewing. Check out Naomi House’s I Need A Library Job page to get an idea of what jobs are out there and what skills you need to work on to get them. AzLA has job resources. The MPLA has a Job Line.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend joining Toastmasters to work on your speaking and leadership skills. (Full disclaimer: I’m an officer for Twilite Toastmasters in Tempe.) A Toastmasters meeting is a “learn-by-doing workshop.” It’s fun, it’s a supportive environment, you’ll make new friends, and you’ll gain skills that will help you get ahead.

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