Most of my time in libraries has been in paid positions. As I talked about in a previous post, I stumbled upon a career in libraries unintentionally. I worked in libraries for about 5 years before I left Colorado to move to Nebraska. When I arrived in Nebraska, my local library system was in a hiring freeze. I realized I needed to meet people and learn more about the local libraries in order to get my foot in the door. Because my school would charge me extra to do an internship, I decided to do one on my own. I contacted one of the branches and asked if I could do an internship. After some negotiation, I was able to do job shadowing at two different branches. It was interesting, I met quite a few people, and I was able to see how things worked behind the scenes. When they did have a job opening, one of the interviewers was the branch manager for whom I’d volunteered.
I believe volunteering is important to meet people and show them what you can do. I wish my Master’s program would have included an internship or practicum. However, I feel librarians need to be careful about how much volunteers do in the library. In order to provide the best service to our patrons, we need paid, professional staff doing the most important tasks and demonstrating the value of this career field.