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Reflections of a New Community College Librarian

After months of searching I finally found found a job and I have to say that I'm really surprised with both where I landed and how much I'm loving it.

After focusing primarily on the public library reference jobs that were similar to my most recent position, I stumbled onto a couple openings at nearby community colleges. When I'd first graduated from library school I heard somewhere that people who worked in community college libraries claimed they were this magical land where public meets academic, where you don't have to deal with spoiled rich kids and people are looking for things more stimulating than the latest James Patterson novel. But I went to library school so I could become a public librarian and I loved the public library job I eventually got, so I never really thought about that statement.

While I loved my public library job, one of things I discovered I loved most about it was teaching public computer classes. Eventually it clicked with me that academic librarians do more teaching than I ever had time to do at the public library and so I started applying for academic jobs and landed at my current employer where I get to staff the reference desk (my original library love) and teach instruction sessions (my new library love).

I forgot how much I missed all the teachable moments you get to have at an academic reference desk. So often in the public library we're focused on making things as easy as we can for the patrons that we don't try to instill information literacy skills. On the other hand, here we try to offer that kind of instruction every opportunity we can. Students are here to learn and it comes across in the way they ask for help. Instead of asking "who" or "what" questions, they ask more "how" and "why" questions so that they can replicate the answer process I demonstrate for them.

But it is still reminiscent of the public library. I've done several basic email one-on-ones this week  from teaching how to attach a paper to an email, to the basics of how to log into their email account once it's been set up. While setting up our upcoming new books display I noticed a lot of the same kinds of popular non-fiction I'd be ordering in the public library, as well as some of the popular fiction.

While I'm certainly not wearing any rose-colored glasses (the library I'm in is TINY & there are challenges a plenty serving such a diverse student population), so far I'm thinking that the community college library is the kind of academic library for me.
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