I remember when I moved to Maine, just a shade less than 10 years ago, Denisa and I had a conversation about where my career might take me. I was fresh out of library school, though I’d already been working in libraries for seven years. We hoped we might be able to settle down somewhere for a while, but as I took a look at my coworkers, I felt like the odds of me having much upward mobility at my library were pretty slim. My director had been there for about ten year already and was years and years away from thinking about retirement, and even if he were closer, my supervisor was only a few years older than me.
It seemed clear at the time that if I ever wanted to really “move up” in the library world, it would likely entail a physical move as well.
But if there’s one thing these past ten years have taught me, it’s that you really can’t plan for the future too much. The future almost always has other ideas.
Case in point: here I am, ten years later, and as of yesterday afternoon, I’m officially the Library Director at my job.
I am, of course, very happy and proud of that accomplishment, though it certainly has come at a cost. There are far fewer librarians at my institution now than there were before, and they’ve all left under a variety of circumstances. Some happy, some very sad. So in some ways, this has been a game of “Last Man Standing.” But here I am, and it’s important to celebrate your accomplishments when you can, because you never know when that whole “future” thing is going to throw you another curve ball.
Being a library director means more to me, as a librarian, than it likely does to non-library folk. For one thing, it’ll be so much easier to tell people what I do. “Library Director” is easily understood in a way “Manager of Informational and Research Services” just isn’t. By the time I got to the end of saying my title aloud, most people had already fallen asleep. But Library Director is a title that’s fairly universally understood. It also means I’m quite firmly entrenched in administration at this point, though thankfully my library is small enough that I still have plenty of opportunity to get out and actually be doing things. It’s a very “hands on” role for a director at my university, and I like that.
Where do I go from here? If I can swing it, this would be a lovely part of my story to finish it off with “and he lived happily ever after.” Not that I have nothing more to do at this point, but rather that I’m in a spot where I’m very happy. My family is happy. I love the area. I admire and respect my coworkers, and I feel like my work is contributing to society in a very beneficial way.
I have no real desire to use this as a launching point to go be a director elsewhere after a few years. I would love to dig in and make my library the best it can be.
We’ll see what “the future” has to say about that . . .
For today, I’ll just be glad things are going well. Maybe I’ll buy a few Magic: the Gathering cards to celebrate. 🙂