Becoming a multitype librarian

I became a multitype librarian somewhat by accident. I didn’t know what one was, or even that I already was one. In fact my path to becoming a librarian was somewhat serendipitous . . . .

When I accepted my current position in 1999, I was at the end of career possibilities with the Air Force Library System. I had ended up in that library quite by accident since my name came up on a merit promotion list for a job in the base library. I was a certified teacher, and my teaching certification qualified me for a job in the library. I excitedly accepted the job, since I’ve always seen libraries as the education laboratory for society as a whole. Else, where else can citizens keep learning beyond high school?

For the first few years in the Air Force Library, I had thrived. But it had soon became apparent that my career could go nowhere in the library system without an MLS. In 1997, choices for a library degree in WestRiver South Dakota (bet you didn’t know there were 2 South Dakotas, but that’s another post) were not plentiful — in fact, there were only 3 viable choices. I chose the LEEP program from the University of Illinois, a choice I have never regretted.

Halfway through my MLS program, we were told that our library would be contracted out — the dreaded “outsource” word. So, I made up my mind I would strike out when I received my MLS.As I looked for jobs, I found a job listing for a library system in Minnesota, providing multitype library services. The location was barely within the 100 mile radius of where I wanted to be near my aging parents, and it was just ambiguous enough to whet my curiosity. Never one to want a widget assembly type job, I quickly sent out requests for what this library region for multitype services was. Answers were equally ambiguous, including the one from the University of Illinois Library School.

I interviewed for the job, and during the interview spent a lot of time talking about things like philosophy of access to information, filtering, and project management. I came away with a good feeling of the organization and its people but still no good idea what multitype library services are.

Soon after the interview, I was offered the job. I asked what a typical day (or even week) would be like. I didn’t get a real understandable answer. I requested several weeks to make my decision and I laid awake nights trying to get my head around what I’d be doing. I asked lots of people, and got a variety of answers. Finally, I sent an E-mail to a former South Dakota librarian who now works in Minnesota. Becky quickly wrote back that SELCO is a good organization, everyone there seems happy, and I should accept the job (or she’d help me pack). Trusting Becky and my gut, I accepted the job, rationalizing that being in Minnesota would position me to find another job. I planned to stay 3 years. But I still didn’t know what a multitype librarian was.