by Sharon Rivers, Oregon Chapter, Biomedical & Life Sciences Division
Portland is swimming with librarians. If you want to make a joke at a conference of librarians in the Paciﬁc Northwest, just say that you have moved here to ﬁnd a library job. Thatʼs what I did: I moved here fresh from Pittsburgh last February, was armed with my MLS from the University of Pittsburgh, showed up at the annual Online Northwest Conference and let people know that I was there to network and ﬁnd a job. The laughs began. And theyʼve continued persistently since. Portland is a hip city and, letʼs face it, being a librarian is pretty darn hip. That is my educated hypothesis on why there is a high ratio of librarians to library jobs here.
This has led me to think outside of the box and turn my Masters degree into a hybrid skill — a skill that I can use to accentuate my basic knowledge of other ﬁelds. Here are some of the ways that I have found that I have value as a Library Science grad:
Be a sifter of information: We have all come to realize that the internet is a garbage dump of information. There are some jewels in there, but itʼs important to ﬁnd a person who can ﬁnd them. In interviews, I am sure to bring up the fact that in any situation of large amounts of information or data, I can be relied upon to ﬁnd what is relevant.
Use my customer service skills: Working in a public library for six years has taught me how to be of service to a large array of people. Iʼve learned how to explain difﬁcult procedures to a beginning learner; that many times a person needs to be led with a lot of questions to ﬁgure out exactly what they need; and that remembering a personʼs name goes a long way in making a good impression.
Use my passion for continuous education and life-long learning: A prospective employer wants to hear that you are willing to grow in your position. I believe a characteristic of all librarians is a thirst for knowledge. We are curious, ambitious, and intelligent. This all leads to us having the drive to continually be learning more. We have the drive to grow–employers need to hear that.
In my job search, one of the best pieces of advice that Iʼve been given is that I need to think outside of the box. Iʼm certain that I can apply my past experience and skills in ways that I havenʼt thought of yet. If I do this, I am going to be pleasantly surprised.
Sharon Rivers received her Masters Degree in Library Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005. She is a recent transplant to Portland, Oregon and is currently seeking ways to become part of the network of librarians in Portland.