When I was in library school, I felt like the world was my oyster. There were so many different opportunities available. I interned with a puzzle collection at the rare books library, worked as a page team leader at the local public library, and also taught information literacy sessions to undergraduates. I took classes in rare books, archives, cataloging, reference, children’s and young adult literature, and many others. I enjoyed exploring the different aspects of librarianship, and since finding a job was never far from my mind, I wanted to be as versatile and have as many options as possible.
I was planning to pursue public librarianship, but during my last semester of graduate school a technical services position opened up at my alma mater, Hillsdale College. I love my alma mater, and I had often wanted to go back and work there, but I didn’t think it would be a possibility. So, when I heard about the serial librarian’s retirement plans, I was excited, but also hesitant. In the past, I had often proclaimed, “I could never be a serials librarian. I could never work in serials.” I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do, but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to do that. I did, however, decide to apply for the position, and after surviving an interview during an ice storm that closed down campus, I was offered, and accepted the position.
I was excited to go back to Hillsdale. I had worked in the library before, and I knew my co-workers, but I was also very aware that I didn’t know what I was doing. Some people know what they want to do and get a job in that field, but I think it is also common to apply for and accept a job that you didn’t quite expect. That’s what happened in my case, and I don’t have any regrets. I was a little worried, but I decided that I would do and learn what I could. As I finished up my degree, I talked with my advisor, a former serials librarian, and also with an electronic resources librarian at the university, while also trying to look at the current literature and issues in the field. Looking back, I think feeling ignorant was a good thing. Since I was very aware of my skills, or lack thereof, I came into my position with fewer preconceived ideas and a willingness to learn. Sure, there was a learning curve, but my boss and co-workers were patient and willing to help.
I have been in my current position for almost two years, and I have learned so much in that time. There is still a lot that I don’t know, but I continue to learn, and I have also been able to make the position my own. I found that I enjoy collection development and am looking forward to summer weeding projects. I also lead a book discussion every semester, as I enjoy interacting with students and participating in outreach activities.
Even though I never thought I would be a technical services librarian working with serials and electronic resources, I enjoy my job and have been able to challenge myself and exercise skills that I formerly did not have much faith in. Because the institution is such a good fit for me, I am able to explore new skills and ideas and grow in both my personal and professional life. So, no, this isn’t what I expected, but it is working out well.
Brenna Henry is a Technical Services Librarian working with serials and electronic resources at Hillsdale College. She graduated from IU Bloomington with her MLS in 2011, and enjoys reading (of course), community theater, and extreme mud runs.