The Road Taken, So Far

I have a confession to make. It’s been bubbling beneath the surface for at least a year or two. I’ve talked to close friends and family about it. It’s probably been in the subtext of this blog (and Twitter and other places on the internet) for a while, but I haven’t come right out and said it. Now I’m going to come right out and say it:

I’m not really interested in libraries anymore.

I’m not saying I don’t like my job. On the contrary, it’s good, solid work that’s frequently fun. And I work with a whole lot of really amazing people who brighten my life. The job is very, very good.

I’m also not saying I don’t like libraries as institutions anymore. I love being in libraries and I think libraries are a crucial part of a free, civilized society.

But I’ve lost all of my interest in thinking about and discussing large library issues. I don’t want to blog about libraries or read articles about libraries or present at professional conferences about libraries. I’m bored with all of that. I want to go to work, do my job, then leave and think about other things. I like my library job, but…

…but I don’t really feel like a librarian anymore. I really like my job, but it doesn’t feel like a career to me. It isn’t who I am.

I went to grad school to get my MLIS because at the time, I didn’t think there was any other way for me to have a career. I was tired of working retail, which is what I mostly did before I got into libraries. I didn’t think there was any way I’d be able to make money by writing or otherwise being a geek. Libraries seemed like the best bet.

Has that changed? In a sense, no. I haven’t really made any money any other way, so I don’t know that there’s any way besides libraries to support myself. But I do know that I’ve got more faith in myself now. I believe that I can work hard and get my writing (prose, poetry, reviews, etc) out there. And I think it may be possible for me to even make a living at it. Basically, librarianship was my fallback, because trusting myself and actually working hard to be what I dreamed of being was too hard. It’s getting easier now. But as it gets easier, as I learn to trust myself and believe in myself, I find myself getting more and more disinterested in librarianship.

Professionally, this may not be the best thing to post. But I want to be honest with myself and the people around me. I feel like I’m at a crossroads right now, and the path I want to take moves me away from librarianship. I still value all of the friends I’ve made in Libraryland and I’m not going to be quitting my job any time soon. But in a certain sense, I’m moving on.

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7 thoughts on “The Road Taken, So Far

  1. It’s very brave of you to say it! However, I don’t think you’re shooting yourself in the foot professionally. Just because you don’t have future ambitions for furthering your career in libraries doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a librarian anymore. Lots of people go through life enjoying exactly the job they have with no intention of moving up. Perhaps you should consider finding a satisfying volunteer opportunity outside of the library sciences. Sometimes the work you are MEANT to do is not your fulltime job, but a side venture.

  2. I too have been sensing the tug of change for quite sometime. I haven not acted on every notion, but contemplating options has helped sharpen my discernment for what will eventually be best. I’m happy that you’re facing these inclinations and am excited for what is next for you.

  3. Your post is freakishly timely to me. I’ve been in the business for nearly 20 years but just got my degree. I realized, after the fact, that I hadn’t been attracted to the degree because I wasn’t sure I was a real LIBRARIAN at heart. I love working in the library and I love what I do, but the whole LibraryActivist as a lifestyle thing isn’t me. My job is a job. Sometimes it’s awesome, sometimes it sucks. But it’s just a job. I didn’t need an expensive degree to do it and now I rather regret that I went through the time and effort to get it.
    I was just talking to my husband this past weekend about this. I was reminiscing that I’d always wanted to be an archaeologist but shied away from it in college because there was math involved. As we blathered about it some more, I started to think…maybe I could do both. Maybe I can start volunteering up at the museum in archaeology-related fields and see how I like it and maybe start taking night classes. By the time I know whether or not that’s the fulfilling track I so desire, my school loans will be paid off and I can transition into another field (literally! I’d be working in fields and stuff!) OR dabble in both, as I saw fit.
    I have to admit, the vain part of me wants to get published in some fashion or another and I have to remain a cataloger so that I can create my own authority record. 😀
    Thanks for posting this – it made me feel better about my own weird feelings.

  4. This has been pretty inspiring to me. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. I admire and appreciate your honesty and candor, Josh. Both will help you as you navigate into your next phase, whatever it may be.

  6. As you know, I’ve changed careers a number of times in my life. I think career change and retraining are good for people. As for libraries and librarianship, I loved grad library school, I loved being a public reference librarian and reference department head, I loved being a public library director. For reasons I have even thought about, I was never interested in “larger” library issues, except as they locally effected my own library. I never joined the ALA, had little to do with the NJLA (New Jersey), and rarely ever attended consortium meetings. My “sense” of being a librarian was always local, immediate and locally limited. Maybe that’s what saved me, or maybe that’s just the way it finally worked out in my last of three or four careers.

  7. Thanks, everyone. I’m glad to get such nice support, and I’m thrilled my post has inspired and touched people. That’s amazing.

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