The Wonderful Lightness of Being [a Librarian]

The first installment from Kim Leeder, in her first year as Reference and Instruction Librarian at Boise State University.

Ridiculously enthusiastic. That’s how I’ve been describing myself to anyone who has asked me how I’m doing in my new job. Ridiculously happy, ridiculously relieved, ridiculously lucky. The extremity of the emotion is directly related to what I believed was the unlikelihood that I would land a job, much less THE job I was seeking as reference librarian in a university library.

You see, not only did I have the usual challenges of tight job market and limited experience upon my graduation from library school in May of ’06, but I faced the added complication of an academic spouse who was offered his perfect job in a small city with very limited career options. Yikes. If you know anything about academic couples, you know those odds. They’re nothing you’d put money on in Vegas.

But somehow it happened! The job opened, I applied, and a hundred years later they called me for a phone and then campus interview. In July I began the Adventure of the First-Year Librarian, which so far has been all I could wish for and more. The variety of things I get to do is both intimidating and exhilarating: reference, instruction, collection development, outreach, and special projects galore. My first few weeks on the new job, as summer session wound down, were quiet, but a tornado of activity began in mid-August that surprised me even though I expected it.

I am fully certain that this is going to be the toughest job I’ve ever held, and you may hear me whining about the stress sometime in late November (my sincere apologies in advance). If that happens, I promise to take a step back and remember the feeling I have right now: the feeling of holding a winning lottery ticket I’m just about to cash in.

I have so much more to say but I’ll have to save it for future posts. I look forward to sharing my first-year adventure with you here, thanks to the kind organizers of ACRLog. I hope that my stories will enlighten or at least entertain, and that you’ll spend more time laughing with me than at me. More to come soon!

7 thoughts on “The Wonderful Lightness of Being [a Librarian]”

  1. So Kim, what other jobs have you held, and why do you think that this one will be the toughest ever? This curious mind wants to know.

    And thanks for bringing your enthusiasm to the profession, and sharing it with all of us!

    Marilyn R. Pukkila
    Head of Instructional Services
    Colby College Libraries

  2. To the curious mind: My previous jobs? Thanks for asking! I’ve been Assistant and Associate Editor for a few publications/presses, worked as a Legal Assistant, and then Special Assistant to a library dean… do you see the trend? I’ve been in a lot of support positions where my workload and deadlines were determined by others.

    This is more or less the first job I’ve held where *I* am in charge. Granted I have others to answer to, but the independence of this position and the variety of duties are what make it so challenging — and interesting!

  3. Ah, yes, I see the trend: spiraling ever closer to librarianship!

    The autonomy and the variety can indeed be daunting, but I have to say that in almost 30 years (ye gods!) of librarianship, I have never been bored, and that means a lot to me.


  4. I am glad to see another First Year Librarian sharing thoughts for the world–and a great phrase, it compliments our focus on the student FYE so well.

    I look forward to reading about your experiences. I am in my first position as faculty librarian and I find the experience invigorating…and terrifying. Currently I am most irritated by the staff members who stop me every day as I am exiting my car in the staff parking lot, chirping, “Excuuuuuuuuse me, this is *staff* parking!” When I wave my faculty pass at them they blink at me and make comments on my youthful appearance.

    Highlights of the first term include collecting Microelectronics Technology (who knew I’d like it??), teaching students who are entertained when I tell them I don’t mind if they roll their eyes–at least I know they are listening, and learning that some millennial students HAVE been taught basic manners at home.

    Best of luck to you in your new position.
    Allie – the shiny librarian (as in shiny and new)

  5. These wonderful thoughts of entry into librarianship are keeping me going. I am a recent MLS graduate, and due to a personal move I am having a bit of difficulty finding a position, not the best location. I’ve been a library assistant for many years and am very excited to get on the other side of things, only to have to wait longer! Until things turn for me, I look forward to hearing more about other new librarians and hope to contribute to experiences soon.

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