A New Career In a New Town: Librarians on the Move

I make an effort to check into LinkedIn at least once a week. As a social network, it is pretty pitiful but as a place where you can update and display your resume it works like a charm. I mostly use it as a way to track what I’ve done in libraries in case I need my resume or to put something I’ve done into an official document/grant/etc.

I’ve been going on there recently because I’ve been updating my resume. Right now I’m in this head space where I am seeing what else is out there when it comes to library jobs and, if it fits some very specific parameters, I am applying to those jobs. I figure this: why not, I’ll only live once, and if something inspires me why not give it a shot? So…I’m applying to some jobs. We’ll see what happens. Maybe it will be my next step, maybe it will just be an interview experience, or maybe it will be nothing. It doesn’t hurt to try something new.

I’ve also had to come face to face with my work history as I update my resume. When I moved to Chattanooga, TN a lot of people told me I was nuts because it was another job and that my resume was growing to look like I go from job to job. This always irked me. To me, it wasn’t about moving from job to job. To me it was all about getting the  experience I craved and moving up into roles which challenged me. I guess it could be an age thing. The people who doubted my moves were also people who had been at the same library for 10+ years. At some point in my life I may like that, but for the moment (and I guess it continues to this day) I crave growth, learning, and adventure.


A new job at a new library in a new town is just that: a way to experience the world, to grow as a person, to learn more, and to give back something to a community. When I was younger I used to think this a lot: “if I’m not growing, then I must be dying” and as I write this post that comes back to me.

I also think about the librarian profession and how screwed up it can be for those searching for jobs or looking for experience in their current job. Not every library and not every state are created equally, and you’ll see this in the details of every state library organization page and their job opportunities page. For example, the Pennsylvania Library Association recommends a salary of $59,791/year for a “Full-time librarian who supervises at least three professional librarians”. At my current job I am the director who supervises 7 employees and I make $35,000 /year. Go ahead and browse the other jobs on the PALA Library Job Openings and see what else is out there. I see a Part Time Teen Librarian job that pays $30,000/year and a Children’s Librarian job that pays $32,000-$37,000/year. And let’s not forget how hard it might be to “level up” at your current place of work. What if there’s no way to get into management at your current library but all you want to do someday is be a director? What can you do? In both of these cases, you look for your next adventure, a new job at a new library in a new town.

To end, I bring it all back around to my experience and my time in libraries. Despite what others have said, I am not hopping from job to job because I’m discontent. What I’m doing is looking for that next challenge and that next growth opportunity. If I ain’t growing, I must be dying. In the name of complete honesty and transparency, here’s where I’ve and why I’ve made a move. Have fun. And remember, if someone tells you that you need to stick around just so it looks good, give them the truth. You wanna grow. You wanna learn. You wanna go on an adventure. Trust you gut. Follow your heart.

  • 2 years in New Jersey? I was an entry level teen librarian who wanted to gain management experience, plus I couldn’t afford to live and buy a house in New Jersey.
  • 3 years in Maine? I was a teen librarian who got basic management experience and was not able to move up in that library system so I left for a job who really wanted me to come work for them AND which gave me a lot of management experience.
  • 2 years in Chattanooga? I was a Youth Services Manager but I felt the urge to move into a Library Director role, plus life in the South just wasn’t what my family and I were looking for (too hot and muggy for us east coast people).
  • 2.5 years in Titusville? I am a director but I get paid $25,000 below state average and I am looking for work that pays me a better living wage so that my family and I do not need to be on food stamps. I also crave challenge, be that as a director of a bigger library or in a leadership/administrative role at a larger library.


  1. Hi Justin,

    Longtime follower, first time commenter. I enjoy reading your posts; we have a lot in common so it’s nice to see I’m not alone. I’ve mentally written you tons of messages to let you know that you are not alone but never had the urgency to write it down, until today. Today, your post today seems like perfect timing. Today, I resigned from a public library Director position that I enjoyed. Maybe it would be a good fit for you? Do you have a specific geographic area that you are job searching in? I’m in Lancaster County, PA. I’d be happy to share the job posting with you when it becomes available.



    On Jan 17, 2018 10:33 AM, “JUSTIN THE LIBRARIAN” wrote:

    > Justin Hoenke posted: ” I make an effort to check into LinkedIn at least > once a week. As a social network, it is pretty pitiful but as a place where > you can update and display your resume it works like a charm. I mostly use > it as a way to track what I’ve done in libraries in c” >

    • HI MELISSA! I hope you are having a good day. Doesn’t the world work in the most mysterious ways? I have long had this feeling that everything is connected and the older I get the more I see it. Let’s chat. I’m going to send you an email shortly.

  2. Hi Justin!
    I’m new in the world of Libraries (from the staff pov) and I’m down on the entry level (Library Assistant) however I am super loving my job and I’ve decided to make this my career, one way or another.
    I do have to say that, although I love the institution I am working for and the library as a whole, the HR department did the opposite of what you suggest here when hiring me. However, because it is an academic institution the HR department is completely separate (even in a different campus) from Libraries and Resources. What would you suggest someone in the Resources department could do to help this issue for job seekers when HR deals with the beginning of the application process separately?
    Just curious to know your opinion. I liked the post very much and I wish all kinds of organisations applied these ideas!

    • Hi Katherine! Welcome to the world of libraries, and just so you know you are in the right place (entry level, it’s the best and that’s a great place to start. I was a shelver/circ desk person for years!).

      Hmmmm, this is a good question. I’m not super familiar with the academic world, but I’d mention to your Resources dept that the communication between you and HR during hiring was not the best process. That could at least start a little bit of conversation. Maybe the Resources dept needs to be, and I don’t like using this word too much cause it is so cliche these days, embedded in the HR dept during times of hiring?

      I hope that helps you a bit! Please keep me updated!

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