The Next Gen Librarian's Survival Guide by Rachel Singer Gordon

The Next Gen Librarian's Survival Guide
Rachel Singer Gordon
(Information Today, Medford (NJ): 2006)

READ: January-February 2009

I believe I stumbled across this book when getting some other books on librarianship that I had recently read reviews for. The author, Rachel Singer Gordon, is a name I already knew - she is the editor of the Info Career Trends Newsletter to which I subscribe, amonst other things. She is one of those people who, in the world of librarianship at least, always seems to have something interesting to say. Plus I figured I am a NextGen librarian (I guess?) and so might learn something useful or two.

I probably had a larger need for this book a few years ago, but I still found it useful. Gordon provides advice and tips on many different issues in librarianship, from surviving library school*, to finding a first job, to perceptions of librarianship, to working with older colleagues who might perhaps be a bit more - ahem - traditional.

Another important aspect to note is that Gordon is focusing on the American library job market, which, from what I know, is significantly different from the Canadian one. It is really hard for many graduates of American library schools to snag that first job. Canadian library school graduates - and my evidence is largely anecdotal on this account, I admit - have a much easier time. Gordon gives some good general advice on job-hunting; for example, no matter how broke you might feel upon graduation, don't necessarily just snap up the first job that comes your way.

What I really found useful in this book is that Gordon also sent out surveys to both NextGen (under-40) and older librarians (over-40), in order to solicit feedback on the issues covered in her book. Some of the responses to these are very telling. Others are quick to point out that the under-40, over-40 divide is a bit of a false dichotomy, which Gordon (to her credit) acknowledges whenever possible. (You have to draw a line in the sand somewhere, right?)

The final chapter in the book tackles the subject from a completely different angle. It is written for current administrators and managers, rather than the NextGen librarians working for those administrators and managers. This gives an interesting perspective from "the other side of the fence", so to speak.

Well-written, and a quick, easy read, I would recommend this to people still in library school, or those recently graduated (within the last few years). Beyond that, you've probably figured out most of what's in the book - maybe the hard way! I would also recommend it to older librarians, administrators and managers, who might be having a hard time relating to or understanding their younger colleagues.

* Those of you who are not librarians will not necessarily know that while most librarians are very content and happy in their day-to-day jobs, library school itself is almost universally disliked.

1 comment:

Lesley said...

I start library school in August, may have to pick this one up! (I've been working in libraries for 14 years, so I'm getting a late start on the MLS!)