The International Librarians Network has been an amazing experience for me. Not only do I have the opportunity to interact with many incredible people from around the world, but being a part of this organization has continued to fuel my passion for librarianship, both at home and abroad. I have learned so much, not only through the writing I have done as a content officer, but in reading about others’ experiences – the challenges they surmount and the victories they celebrate.
2016 has been a year of transformation for me. When the clock struck midnight on January 1st, I was working at a state university library in Upstate New York. It was winter, snow covered the ground and we all bundled up when venturing outside. But as the year went on, the snow melted and my compass began to change direction. I had begun my professional career years ago as an archivist, but like many of us in the library world, our jobs do not always follow the course we imagine. I moved into reference and instruction, where most of my days were spent teaching students (and some faculty) how to use our resources. Now, I am a User Experience and Outreach Librarian, a position that feels like the right fit – not that the others didn’t work – but this position is me. It is my passion, my calling and I am so grateful to my former library director for leading me in this direction.
Things happen in very strange ways. Seven years ago I was vacationing in Florida, in a small town called New Smyrna Beach on the Atlantic Coast. During our stay we explored the area and came across a charming city called DeLand, with a beautiful college named Stetson University (one of the founders was John B. Stetson, the inventor of the famous cowboy hat). Upon driving by the campus, I instinctively thought “I want to work here one day”. I could just feel in my bones that this was a place I wanted to be. Last Spring, a job ad appeared for a User Experience (UX) librarian with the university. It was as if a bolt of lightning had hit me. UX positions are relatively new in the United States, and not only was the positon exactly what I was doing and truly loved, but it was at the one institution I really wanted to work for.
I was offered the job. I became the Nomad Librarian once again and moved my life 2,000 miles from snow and ice to a world of sand and palm trees and sunlight. It’s November now and still warm. On my way to work every morning I am in awe of the beauty of this area and the fact that I have ended up in the place that I hoped to be almost a decade ago. If you have read any of my posts since the summer you know that the library I am in now has a wealth of resources I had never experienced before – especially the equipment in our Innovation Lab. As with any new job there has been a learning curve, but it has been one I have truly enjoyed.
The International Librarians Network called to me in the same fashion as this university and this lovely town of DeLand, Florida. When I first began corresponding with other librarians around the world, my own personal world opened up. Having the opportunity to be a content officer and share my experiences with everyone in the ILN is truly rewarding and I have learned so much – I research and write about topics that I never imagined I would, yet they have become so valuable for my own personal and professional development. In reading the works of others, I continue to educate myself and understand that librarianship around the world comes in all shapes and sizes. We are all trying new and exciting things at our institutions. Most importantly, we are offering knowledge and avenues for our patrons to educate themselves and become more empowered, and that is something we can all be proud of.
2016 was certainly a year of transformation for me personally and professionally. A year ago, staring out at falling snow I wouldn’t believe that today I would be looking out my office window at palm trees. I couldn’t imagine the amount I would learn throughout the year about what so many of us do, how libraries are changing and how we are instruments of that change. The International Librarians Network is one reason we can make our corners of the world better, and share our experiences with one another – whether they are small “a-ha” moments or events that uproot your life. Thank you Kate, Alyson and Clare for providing this amazing opportunity and a place where we can all get together to share, learn and grow.
–Molly Brown, ILN Content Officer