When I embarked on the teen librarian career path in 2007, I never understood what the possibilities were, where it would take me, and just what I’d be doing five years later. Thinking back to that moment in time, I imagined a career where I’d work in a library, buy new materials for the teens in the library, put on programs, and that was about it. This way of thinking made me see librarianship as a job, not a career.
But as we all know things never go as you think they will and all that you can do is do your best to keep up with the change that surrounds you. Plus, I knew there was more to working in a library than just showing up, doing your thing and leaving. No matter if you were on the clock or not, you always wore your librarian hat in the community. This lead to me seeking out ways to share ideas, programs, and more with other librarians. Twitter, blogging, and Facebook were the tools that gave me the opportunity to reach out to a larger audience. And it worked…I wasn’t just going to the library and doing my thing. I was sharing and writing with a much larger audience than just my community.
Things changed for me professionally quite a bit in 2010. I became the Teen Librarian at the biggest library in the entire state of Maine. From what I understand, there was a national job search and I was the one they picked. Wow. That’s heavy. I remember driving up to Maine one winter day for my interview, spending the night in what I’d describe as a fancy hotel overlooking all of Portland, ME, and that same day being asked to become a contributor for a blog that had changed the way I thought about libraries when I was back in library school. After accepting the job, I was tasked with building a teen library from the ground up, putting on programs for the teen community, and meeting and collaborating with many different groups around the community. All of a sudden I didn’t just have a job…I had a career. That’s where the pace of the change surrounding me ramped up quite a bit. The next thing that came was that I was asked to write pieces for professional publications. Then I was invited to speak at conferences and share what I had been doing in our teen library with a greater audience. This was a career path different than anything I had imagined. While happy (and very humbled!) to be sharing knowledge and inspiring people in my professional network something felt a bit off to me. This way of thinking made me see librarianship as a career, not a job. This change in thought made me realize the need for balance.
This brings us up to the present. I write this piece with mixed emotions, not knowing exactly what the future holds, not knowing exactly why I’m writing this in the first place. Maybe it’s to collect my thoughts. Perhaps it is to signal the beginning of the end of the “Justin The Librarian” phase of my life. I do not know. I will know someday though.
But in the meantime, all that I can aim for is balance…balance between having a job or having a career, being a husband and father, and just being Justin. Life gets really interesting as you get older.