My 3-year plan

So, I planned to stay 3 years. Here I am 6 years and 3 months after my first day on June 14th, 1999. Why I am still here?

One thing I’ve learned. Multitype library services is a constantly moving target. My mother, a retired teacher (lower elementary) with a minor in library science does not understand how I have a library degree and no library. People ask me the same question I asked when I first took the job – “what do you do all day?” I tell them and myself, I go to work and do what needs to be done.

What keeps me doing this, is that it is never boring. We have 100+ multitype library members. Within that larger universe, we have a fairly substantial number who make up the subset of the Online Libraries. By far, our largest product line is the SELCO Integrated Library System, so a great amount of my time is spent in tasks related to library automation — albeit not actually running the automation system.

When I was hired at SELCO, my job title was “Regional Consultant for Multitype Services.” I immediately lobbied to change my moniker to some kind of “librarian” – and my job title was soon “Regional multitype librarian”.

Just trying to keep up with all that job title implies has kept me challenged, and time has truly flown quickly. During this time we have moved our headquarters offices to a new building, and last year we migrated our library automation system from a DRA classic system to epixtech Horizon. So maybe my original intent to only stay in my original job for 3 years was accurate, this has hardly been the same job for the last 5 years.

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.