The Push: Public Lib vs Academic Lib

When I started school, some of the first questions we were asked were: “what are you interested in? what do you want to do? where do you want to work?” My answers were completely generic, “Um. I want to work in a library. I want to work with people. I don’t want to do cataloging.” Now I answer, “I want to enter academic librarianship.” But why?

I enjoyed working at the library on campus at my undergrad, and I am unbelievably grateful for all the experience and opportunities the faculty and staff gave me there. In some ways, I see myself returning to an academic setting and thriving. I now work at the Suzzallo Library in the Monographic Acquisitions Division.

BUT (and here’s where the pushing comes)
The classes I’m most interested in consistently talk about public libraries. I find myself enthused by the idea of working in a public library because my classes are always talking about the situations that arise within them (public libraries). Here’s my conflict: classes specifically for people interested in academic libraries don’t exist (at the iSchool). How am I supposed to learn specific situations for academic libraries if my classes don’t touch on them? I cannot and do not believe that situations are handled similarly in academic and public libraries. I know important distinctions exist!

I know this because, fortunately, I have experience in academic libraries. I feel a push and pull because of my experience and my education. This summer, I hope to find an internship at a public library to gain experience and insight into this outside of my education. I just hope that I will be prepared to work in both types of libraries — even if my formal education pushes me in one specific direction. 


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