By Annice Sevett
Librarians are mobile professionals; moving to take better job opportunities is common and even somewhat expected. While this trait makes our profession unique, it can cause stress. As individuals in this field, it means we must be prepared to deal with changes in personnel, even when starting that first job. Because of this, you must be prepared to jump right in.
Starting your first library job brings up a lot of feelings for an individual - excitement, nervousness, etc. This is normal for anyone starting a new job. Remembering that everyone has these feelings when starting a new job can go a long way toward making you feel more comfortable. You never know what situation you will be walking into, however being able to adapt to the situation quickly will be one of the biggest determinants of your success.
In order to be ready to adapt, you can do a few things when starting a job. The first is learning what you can as quickly as you can. In a few weeks, your boss may leave for a new job and you will want to be prepared by learning as much as you can from them. Another co-worker could go on maternity leave, resulting in you having more responsibilities and one less person to ask for help. Learning as much as you can right away will help you adapt quickly.
Similarly, you must be able to take initiative. The ability to start making connections in the community, planning events and completing other duties of the position is important. The sooner you get started, the less time you will be playing catch up and the more you will feel comfortable in the position. Remember, they hired you because they have faith you can do the job and will bring something to the position. Do not be afraid to show that they made the right choice.
Thirdly, if you take initiative you will most likely make mistakes, but do not let these rattle you. Mistakes can be fixed and experience is your best teacher. Especially in this field, you never know until you try something. Your first initiative may fail, however you will be rewarded because you tried something.
Finally, always ask questions. People go into the library profession for many reasons, but they all want to help individuals no matter what type of library they work at. They will be happy to answer your questions. Remember your co-workers were once in your position.
Walking into your first job is a big step and you want to prove yourself. Remember to go in ready to jump right in, because you do not know what will happen in the next few weeks in terms of changes. Your boss may leave, resulting in no head for awhile; a co-worker could leave, meaning more responsibilities will fall to you. The nature of our profession can lead to personnel changes and they can occur at any time, including soon after you start your first job. Being ready for this by keeping the above tips in mind will help you succeed not only in your first job but in future jobs and in the profession as a whole.
Annice Sevett is the Adult Services Librarian at the Willmar Public Library in Willmar, MN.