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The career college librarian at the State Library Association

January 10, 2012

Hehe… that title makes me giggle.  Why wouldn’t a librarian for a for-profit college be a member of their state library association?  To me it seemed an obvious thing to do.  But when I first got started here I heard another librarian in my institution say that our state library association wouldn’t allow her to be a member.  I was so completely amazed I assumed she was just joking, I think I might have even laughed and said “Oh come on.”  But she was REALLY serious.  She thought the association wouldn’t accept her membership because she worked in a for-profit college.  For the record that is NOT the case – I’m actually the membership committee chair for the NCLA and certainly I need to be a member for that station on the board and I do work in a career college.  It does bring up a really good point though; how do librarians in other libraries see us?  And maybe just as important, how do we see them?

In the last several weeks I have been surrounded by the huge chasm between individuals working at a career college and those working in a traditional or community college.  There are discussions on LinkedIn about reputations for certain for-profit colleges and all kinds of news articles and studies, in fact a new study came out by some researches at Harvard (David J. Deming, Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz) just recently.  It can really make you feel “less than” when talking to others in your field.  It can also make you start to create an image of the snotty “real” librarians in your mind.  Thank kind of thinking is dangerous for our profession – we need to be collaborating inside and outside our field freely.

Well here is one way to start changing that perception – join your state library association.  Get involved, start volunteering and TALK about what you do and why it’s important.  Show the library director for your State’s University that you are smart, capable and a damn fine librarian!  Yeah that’s right – strut your stuff!  And at the same time learn – learn for those in institutions different from yours.  Find new ideas to bring to your space and share them with your students, faculty and administration.  It is so much easier to get involved with your state association than the ALA or SLA and it can do wonders for your networking and professional image.  Besides – it’s FUN!

What is one other way to challenge these divides?  I challenge you to post a comment, send a tweet or share on Facebook one other way you can think of to reach out to librarians everywhere – no matter what kind of library they work in.  GO!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2012 11:50 am

    Excellent post. I wish I had more time and money to get involved in associations and especially to attend a conference or two. I am limited to communicating online and doing virtual conferences. Even so, I think that career college librarians fulfill some very important functions. The main one, obviously, is bringing information to students and faculty. Just because someone is not at a traditional college doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t deserve to have access to a library and materials to support their studies. But we also are educating the administration of career colleges as to what the function of a library is and how a library should serve a school. We’re bringing professional standards to schools that are either new or may not have had libraries in the past. I believe that we are going to see a lot of growth, improvement, and (I hope) collaboration among career college libraries in the next decade.

    • January 10, 2012 2:05 pm

      I completely agree Michelene and thank you for sharing. I find it ironic that while we have many of the same challenges that more traditional colleges have the “language” we use to explain is much different – maybe closer to a public librarian would need. I would love to outreach more with those librarians to find our similarities and differences. And I believe you are right – we will see huge growth in the next decade or so… Thanks again.

  2. Alice Graves permalink
    January 10, 2012 3:59 pm

    I work at a career college library and I am a member of my state library assn., the ALA, and ACRL. We are all librarians; we take the jobs where we can get them. Sure, I’d love to work at a huge university library where I can assist grad students and professors with their research, but this is the job I was offered, and I love it. I am helping students who really need help and who are grateful and thank me for help. They are not using premium academic databases, but they are trying to make their lives better and I greatly respect them.

    • January 10, 2012 4:18 pm

      Well said Alice well said!! I think it is so important to be involved in those ways and the work done in our spaces is sometimes magical. I wonder how we can go about reaching out to the library managers out there that don’t have a professional background in librarianship?

  3. Alice Graves permalink
    January 10, 2012 4:01 pm

    Michelene and Jennifer, ACRL has a listserv for OPLs. Many of us career college librarians are OPLs. I strongly suggest joining. Very little has been written about career college libraries, and we need to add to the conversation.

    • January 10, 2012 4:19 pm

      And I will definitely be checking out that listserv. 🙂

  4. Tammy D permalink
    January 11, 2012 7:19 pm

    I’d be interested in the ACRL listserv. How do I find it? I know I’m a librarian and should be able to find it, but I couldn’t. 😦

    • January 12, 2012 1:29 pm

      Hi Tammy! Thank you for asking. The listserv can be found here. There were a few other places to go if you are interested that I have been able to find. Check out my blog post The for-profit college library landscape And please hit me up on Facebook/Twitter. Really trying to get a community going for us.

      Cheers, Jennie

  5. Alice Graves permalink
    January 12, 2012 1:08 pm

    It’s acrl-ifpei at and it’s a discussion group, not a listserv as I said earlier.

    • January 12, 2012 1:30 pm

      Thanks Alice!!

  6. Lee permalink
    January 13, 2012 5:25 pm

    longtime listener, first-time caller…
    hope these are appropriate to the current discussion: [this is all the key you need, though]

    • January 14, 2012 3:40 pm

      Lee these are great and this listserv/discussion group is one of the great things ACRL and ALA has set up just for career college libraries. If anyone doesn’t follow, I encourage you to. I don’t think you need to be a member of ALA to join. Thanks and glad you “called in”. 🙂


  1. Jennifer goes to Washington pt 2: a summary « careercollegelibrary
  2. Jennifer goes to Washington APSCU and the career college library « careercollegelibrary

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