Celebrating National Library Week: The road to librarianship

National Library Week blog series

April 10 – 16 is National Library Week in the United States, an annual observance that has been sponsored by the American Library Association since 1958. In celebration of National Library Week, a few members of the OCLC team reflect on their career choices and today’s libraries in a five-part Next series.


What was your work experience before working in libraries? 


“My first “real” paying job was with Illinois Bell (before the telephone industry was deregulated). I took this job after having dropped out of college. Every morning, I had to enter hundreds of orders into a computer and as I did this, another machine generated a narrow yellow paper tape that contained all the data I had entered. Each week, I had to run these tapes through another computer. The rest of the day I did customer service. All this work was so tedious, that it drove me back to college so I could get a degree doing something I would enjoy.”

Irene Hoffman, Executive Director, Member Relations

“I made specialty cookies in a bakery (and I am definitely NOT a baker nor am I a morning person!). This job taught me about working hard, seeing the benefits of that work (in the bakery cases) and about maintaining a positive attitude in general. I wanted a job where being nice to people was a requirement and for me nothing quite fit that except being a librarian.”

Kathy Kie, MLS, Senior Training Coordinator

Rebekah Kilzer“Before I worked in libraries, I did a lot of different things as I figured out what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something that supported lifelong learning, and should have a humanist bent to it. When I finally realized that librarianship was ‘a thing,’ then I knew that’s where I belonged.”

Rebekah Kilzer, Director, Member Education

“While I was in graduate school, I had limited experience working at the Science and Technology reference desk. But I went to library school with virtually no library experience, other than being a user! This was my first professional job and I prepared for it by having a passion for technology and connecting people to information.”

Kendra Morgan, Senior Program Manager, WebJunction

“I was an avid reader and spent a lot of time in the library, so I was already pretty familiar with how the library worked. I learned the rest on the job [as a page at the public library in Warren, Pennsylvania]. On the job, I often read picture books while shelving them (when there was time), so I would be better able to make recommendations to children and their parents.”

Sonya Thelin Oliver, Product Marketing Manager

Rosanna O'Neil“My first paying job was working at a Catholic bingo hall in Erie, Pennsylvania, starting at age 13. I was later a cashier, inventory taker and student worker in the library of my undergraduate school, and while a practicing librarian, moonlighted as a waitress, hostess and bartender. I also worked in my elementary and high school libraries, so I’ve worked in or with libraries since I was 10 years old!”

Rosanna O’Neil, MLS, Senior Library Services Consultant

“Before it was called Silicon Valley, it was just Santa Clara Valley, and agriculture was its big business. My summer job during college was in the Libby’s cannery in Sunnyvale, laboring in a huge facility that was essentially one giant machine, taking fruit in at one end of the building and issuing cans of fruit cocktail out the other. Sometimes I think I’m doing similar labor, as we take RDF triples in one door and send a meaningful graph out the other.”

Bruce Washburn, Software Engineer

“I grew up in a very rural town in Middle Tennessee. The best job I had that prepared me for work was working in a small grocery store. Not only did it help me with honing my customer service skills, but I learned how joyful helping people can be. On top of that, I did a lot of grocery stocking. The attention to detail, speed, and work ethic required was the perfect practice to prepare for entry level library work yet continues to serve me well today.”

Robert Wilson, MSLIS, MS, Senior Implementation Program Manager

Wherever you are in the world, join us in celebrating Library Week by sharing your first library job on twitter, with #NLW16 and #OCLCnext. Click on the text below to get started…

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