The Nomad Librarian

Nomad LibrarianEarly in my career, I took it upon myself to learn all I could about every aspect of a library – Circulation, Reference and Instruction, Cataloging, Special Collections and Administration. It was important to me, as an emerging librarian, to envision the library as an organic whole – not disparate departments within the same building. I wanted to educate myself as to how all the units function, independently and together, to make the work we do satisfying and more effective for our users.

My career has been dissimilar to numerous friends and co-workers I’ve enjoyed working with over the years. I jokingly call myself “the Nomad Librarian” as my work has taken me to private and public institutions of higher education within the United States and abroad, and has allowed me to see the similarities and differences among institutions. This has been an invaluable education for me, helping me to gauge what is effective service, where the speed bumps occur, and how to correct them.

Some might see working at multiple institutions over the years as a “weakness” (my favorite interview question) but I see it as one of my greatest strengths. I have been given opportunities for growth that I never would have imagined possible. Being a nomad has allowed me to take what I have learned from other institutions and apply it toward the work I do now. It keeps my skills fresh, and allows me to continue to add to my own toolkit, as I learn something new from every experience. Now, as a User Experience Librarian, I use the early skills I honed to observe the library as a unit, and with this in mind I am able to assess the services we have in place for our users, and how we can improve their experience.


Molly Brown, ILN Content Officer

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  1. Love the story – Nomad librarian has also been my career for over 28 years I started in school libraries, then special libraries Royal Blind Society, Medical library, followed by University libraries, Council libraries and back full circle to setting up a school library – It is a wonderful career and I have met the most most fantastic Information Manager, Library Technicians and Librarians. Thanks for sharing your story:)

  2. I think that more and more nowadays we need to be flexible in our working, and ensuring we have transferable skills is important. The days of one job for life are long gone. I moved from a long spell in law librarianship and now work a range of part time & voluntary roles in academic, public & school librarianship, with some freelance writing on the side! Diversity is good!

  3. Am happy to be part of this Normad Librarian only that I did it in the same country but different institutions. First in a Bindery, Law Section, Social Sciences and now Head Campus library in a different institution. I have also attended conferences, IFLA, Scecsal in Africa and trainings the recent being in Israel at GIMI last November

  4. I always thought that jumping around wasn’t a good idea career-wise: I wanted to gain my 10,000 hours…(Gladwell). Your story has made me realize that this movement adds to my “toolkit.” And I plan on adding more. Thank you!

  5. Pingback: Reflections from the ILN 2016 with Molly Brown | International Librarians Network

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