There exists several job types within academic libraries, all of which work collaboratively to accomplish the goals of the institution. It is not uncommon for library staff to move between different roles and to bring the knowledge, expertise, and perspective of their previous roles with them throughout their career. These diverse experiences can lead to a creative and collaborative spirit in the library, where employees bring novel insights on users and policies, and foster a culture of mutual respect across departments.
This session will bring together three MLIS-holders who have worked in both in librarian and non-librarian roles. Our combined personal experiences in academic libraries stimulates a critical dialogue about the interconnectedness of different library roles, the misconceptions associated with a MLIS holder choosing a non-librarian role, and the benefits of being able to speak to both experiences. We will discuss our experiences in non-librarian roles in academic libraries, how those roles compliment and compare to traditional librarian roles, and how we have developed a more holistic professional perspective. By and large, our experiences have further revealed that there is a hierarchical and class system in academic libraries where some jobs are considered more important than others. With that said, we will explore some of the professional disadvantages of having an MLIS in a non-librarian role, such as the limitations of the role, feelings of impostor syndrome, and misconceptions of colleagues.
For these reasons, we feel it is important to unpack the pressures that MLIS-holders feel in the broader workplace. We hope to be able to speak to a broad audience including new graduates applying to their first jobs, as well as mid-career professionals looking to make a change. Overall, we seek to highlight the shared goals of all library employees, and to stimulate a robust conversation that encourages participants to challenge their perceptions of different library work and the class systems we are complicit in.
This session is not intended to provide guidance on how to move from a non-librarian role into a librarian role. Rather, it is quite the opposite. This session intends to highlight how our perspective as librarians have been informed by all of our roles in the academic library, regardless of whether or not those roles were classified as librarian. Our experiences working as part of a library system, supporting users, and contributing to policy decisions have extended across many roles and have lead to a more comprehensive, diverse and critical understanding of ourselves as librarians.