Celebrating National Library Week: How my first job prepared me for today’s challenges

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.


How did your first job prepare you to help libraries address the challenges of today? 


“This was very long ago but that first job helped me seeing a bigger picture than for one sector, like reference, I was aiming at working in. I realized that there were way more factors and elements to work with in real life than we were told at library school. It also taught me that politics and emotional intelligence are part of any daily job, which that too, was not taught.”

Daniel Boivin, Executive Director, OCLC Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean

“The challenges in my day included libraries having to decide whether they should use OCLC or RLIN as their bibliographic utility, which ILS to consider, the future of the bibliographic record and whether or not academic librarians should have tenure. In many ways, these are the challenges that libraries still face today—dealing with the next generation of local systems and the changing roles and responsibilities (and recognition) of library staff.”

Meryl Cinnamon, MLS, Member Relations Liaison

“The challenges that I faced in my first job mirror the challenges of today; dealing with rapid technology change and shrinking resources. As a page I saw the first-generation online catalog, and a state tax measure that drastically cut resources overnight. So as libraries today grapple with rapid technology change and shrinking resources, they are really still facing some very old challenges.”

Rob Favini , MSLIS, Member Relations Liaison

“I could not have envisioned as I shelved back issues of periodicals how easily available that information would become as a result of technology. The challenge facing libraries today is to strive to make their resources accessible and relevant whether it is a website that was accessed a month ago or a photograph that was taken 50 years ago.”

Kathy Kie, MLS, Senior Training Coordinator

“I witnessed the evolution of library automation being used at OSU Libraries (in the early 1980s) and how it made manual tasks become easier or eliminated the need altogether. Today’s libraries are still undergoing this process of adopting new technologies and bringing a balanced approach to delivering their services and value to their patrons—no matter what type of library.”

Kemberly A.M. Lang, MLS, OCLC Library Manager and Corporate Archivist

“That first job exposed me to real life in a public library. Even though I started that job in 1971, some themes continue today. Public librarians still provide service to a broad range of users from children to senior citizens, with diverse information needs. I also learned about the value of local genealogical resources. This seems to be a challenge many library still face, as they work to catalog and digitize local history collections”

Sonya Thelin Oliver, Product Marketing Manager

“That first library job introduced me to some of the backroom work that made libraries what they were, made them function, and helped them to serve the public. The underlying challenges that libraries face have stayed relatively constant, I think: providing users with the best, unbiased, most complete, most accurate answers to their information needs, regardless of the medium. What have changed are the tools we use and they use, the ubiquity of information and what passes for information, the entire sociopolitical context and the rest of the world.”

Jay Weitz, Senior Consulting Database Specialist

“My first library gigs built my ability to stay flexible, and it’s served me well in my career in libraries. I’ve also always been excited by ‘stretch’ or ‘pilot’ projects that may lack funding, a high chance of success, or a clear path forward. Having an underdog mindset has always motivated me to figure it out, so that I can deliver for my team and the people we serve. With the increased challenges libraries are facing, it’s important to stay open to change.”

Kyle Willis, Product Manager

“I was the ground floor as a student helping students (and faculty) transition from print to electronic resources. Being technology-literate and seeing libraries and users grapple with the shift was eye-opening. I realized library technology had to get better and training of those tools had to get better or libraries wouldn’t stand a chance in the world of Wikipedia and Google. Information illiteracy and technology illiteracy and libraries working to address these issues continues to be a challenge 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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