A New Career In A New Town, Chattanooga, TN, Family, Libraries, Life, Portland, ME, Titusville, PA

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.

What I learned over the past 2 years: A thank you to the Teens of the Cape May County Library (Part 2)

I’ve managed to be successful with teens at one library, but how in the hell can I do it again?

This the thought that was in my head when I moved down here to Cape May County, NJ.  I didn’t have the energy to connect with any more teens.  I just didn’t think I was cool enough to be their librarian.  The population I serve at the Cape May County Library was very different.  I was intimidated.  I couldn’t rely on my bag of old tricks to get them to the library.  I had to think outside the box.  While scary at first, I now realize how much good came out of this.

The teens in Cape May County were nothing but welcoming.  They started swarming my desk after a month or so.  I got to know them by name.  High fives started being exchanged.  I felt like part of a team. One time a group of teens brought me some Chinese food.  It was delicious.  I think you know you’ve made it when they bring you Chinese food.

To the teens of the Cape May County Library: thank you for being different.  Thank you for letting me try out new things at the library.  Thank you for coming to the library.  Thank you for being my friend.   You are an awesome bunch of people and I will never forget you.


What I learned over the past 2 years: A thank you to the Cape May County Library (Part 1)

It’s amazing the stuff you can learn in two years.  When I came to Cape May County, New Jersey in May 2008, I was feeling washed up as a librarian.  This was not good, since I had just graduated from Clarion University with my MLS.  I came into a library that had a very small teen program established.  The goal was to send things through the roof.

I didn’t think I had the energy.  I was worried that with all my new tools (bigger budgets, more space) I’d still let people down.  However, what I found around me was a staff that was ready to inject me with all the inspiration in the world.  People were excited that I was doing something.  Their excitement fed my desire to create more and more programs for teens.  I was on a roll.

It was here at the Cape May County Library that I found out what kind of librarian I was.  I am Justin The Librarian, a teen librarian who’s always looking on the positive side of things.  I’m here to inspire and change the world.  I’m here to help.  I’m here for people.  Without the support of the staff at the library, I wouldn’t be doing what I am today.  For that, I am enternally grateful.

To the Library Administration: Thank you for giving me the freedom to run teen services the way I do.  You really gave me free reign even when I came to you with some out there ideas.  Not only that, but through your example I feel like I am able to lead others better.  That was something I did not have before I came to this library.

To the Circulation Staff: Thank you for putting up with my 2 years of whimsical, yet fun teen library programs.  Thank you for letting teens be teens in the library.

To the Behind the Scences crew (ILL, payroll, etc): Without you, the library would fall apart.  I appreciate you keeping tabs on everything while I plugged away.  Thank you for dealing with my massive video game orders, cutting the checks for my teen programs, and so much else.

To the Technical Services crew: Thank you for dealing with my massive reshuffling/expanding of the teen areas at the Cape May County Library.  It was lots of work and without your support I couldn’t have done it.

To the Automation crew: Technology plays a HUGE part in my job.  Without it, I couldn’t bring effective teen services to our teen patrons.  Thank you for solving all my technology needs.  You are the brain of the library!

To the branch libraries: Thank you for your support and thank you for allowing me to come to your library to revamp the teen sections and have programs.  I wish I would’ve had the chance to work with all of you a bit more.

To the Game Night Crew: Gaming in Libraries has really become my passion lately and without your hard work on the Game Night program, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  Thank you for being their for the gamers in our community.  Your passion and excitement for gaming has created an extremely successful program that will be running at the Cape May County Library for years to come.

To the Children’s Staff: When it comes to Youth Services, I am happy to have worked with a team like you.  It was great running programs for all ages with you.  I think we also tackled the rough area of tweens really well and served that population the best we could!

To the Technology Education Center: The need for technology education is so apparent in the many users that I’ve seen come into the library over the past two years that have needed help filling out online applications.  The good news?  You are there for them.

To our Reference Staff: Thank you for your guidance.  Reference has always been my weak point as a librarian, but with your help I think I’ve expanded my knowledge of reference services quite a bit.