I completed my internship during my last semester (Winter 2017). I originally planned to intern just with the Grove Family Library in Chambersburg, PA, which is part of the larger Franklin County Library System (FCLS). I did spend some time at Grove with the director and staff there, but I think a majority of my time ended up being spent with the Processing department, learning about cataloging and processing from the Technical Services Manager. I was able to catalog new items from start to finish, import records from OCLC, process new items, apply barcodes, print call numbers, etc. I loved Processing and wished I had paid better attention to my cataloging class. I was also able to spend time with the Director of Development and attend fundraising and campaign meetings. One of the System libraries was undergoing a massive renovation and expansion, and I was able to attend a construction meeting with the Executive Director and tour the construction site. I am just now realizing how essential my internship was to bringing this job opportunity into my life. I was told several times during my internship that there was no room for me in the budget, so I didn't really expect a job offer to happen, especially not in the way it did. Apparently, networking matters, and so do impressions. I must have done something right or well during my internship for them to consider me for this position months later.
I graduated in May (2017) and continued to work my full time job in Personnel at Walmart. I so appreciate the regular emails I received from the Department with various job opportunities and hiring announcements. I applied to several different positions that interested me (some from the department emails, others found elsewhere), although I knew deep down they weren't the right path for me. I was at least motivated and encouraged by the frequency of the emails and the urgency in some of the messages - there are definite career opportunities available. In July, I was literally inspired to quit my job. That might sound strange to some, but there's no other way to describe it. I didn't have a library job yet, had no promising applications submitted, and not much to fall back on if I didn't find something soon. I'm not the biggest risk-taker and I was terrified but completely calm about potentially being unemployed however briefly. I just hoped that leaving Walmart would provide the right motivation to seriously apply for jobs that would allow me to use my education. I agreed to remain in my position until I found my calling or they found my replacement. Around the end of August, I was encouraged by the director of the Grove Family Library to at least submit an application to the Franklin County Library System, and she strongly encouraged me to submit it that week. I also applied to a library in Maryland that would pay really well but require a much longer commute each day. I was called by the FCLS HR Manager to arrange an interview and the next day was contacted to interview for the Maryland job. I interviewed for both, didn't really feel great about the Maryland interview, and couldn't even imagine what position the Franklin County Library System would offer. Obviously I chose the FCLS opportunity - to be the director of the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library, the third largest branch in the Franklin County Library System - and I knew it would provide the best experience for me while still allowing me to serve in a local community (with a shorter commute) and put my education into practice. This has been such a blessing ... so many additional things have happened that remind me I'm not completely in control, that someone else has a plan for my life, and I feel like I've been guided to the right place, however undeserving I may feel. A few examples: I was supposed to be part-time for the first year because of budget constraints, but after an idea from one of my staff members was able to switch to full-time beginning this month; I was planning to stay on part-time at Walmart for benefits and to make up the difference with additional part-time hours, but was able to officially leave Walmart at the end of October and sign up for health benefits with the library system beginning in December.
I know that I still have a lot to learn. My education and previous work experience has provided a wonderful foundation. To be in a position to apply (literally) everything I learned during my graduate studies has been completely unexpected but is most welcome. When I'd tell people I was studying library science, I received a lot of blank stares and a few responses of "that's a thing?" Information and library science is indeed "a thing" and, in spite of what uninformed others may say, career opportunities abound in the field. There are challenges too, and I wouldn't expect anyone else's career path to look like mine, but I'm so grateful for the education I have received and this opportunity to learn and grow in this community.
When Julie Edholm sits down to work as a metadata cataloger for the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, she describes and assigns subject headings to items in the Winchester Repeating Arms collection and Winchester Publication collection at the Cody Firearms Museum, Cody, Wyoming.
She was offered a job with the Buffalo Bill Center after completing an internship there, part of her coursework in the online Master of Science in Library Science program at Clarion University. The internship, during which she worked with the library's archivist to process the MS 50 Cowboy Songs and Range Ballads collection and established proficiency in cataloging, brought into focus concepts that she had learned in class.
Edholm's path to her career isn't dissimilar to that of a cowboy in the wild west: long, slow, winding and with many stops. She grew up in Orem, Utah, and graduated from Brigham Young University in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in music. Her instrument of emphasis was piano, but she also played harp and clarinet. After graduating, Edholm worked in customer support for WordPerfect Corporation and played harp at events. She left WordPerfect when her first child was born.
As Edholm and her husband's family grew to include eight children, Edholm focused on being a full-time mom. She continued to play harp at events and taught music lessons, but most of her activities centered around her children. For 12 years, she volunteered, telling stories at the local public library's storytime. She loved it. She applied for a paid position to supplement the family's income when her husband lost his business due to economic downturn.
"I started working at the library 10 to 12 hours a week and, over the course of five
years, I moved up from a library assistant to a community relations specialist to,
finally, a full-time associate children's librarian," she said.
That's when she started to think about going back to school for her master's degree in library science. With a full-time job and young children at home, Edholm didn't think it was a good time. That changed when her husband was offered a job in rural Wyoming, and the family moved.
"My youngest was in school, I didn't have to work, and I thought it was the perfect time to go back to school," Edholm said. "I wanted to be more marketable, and I knew a master's degree would give me that extra edge that experience alone would not."
The nearest school that offered a master's in library science was 400 miles away, so she began to research online options.
"I researched around 10 schools that were accredited," she said. "I chose Clarion
because I did not have to travel there at all, and it was less expensive than the
others. I applied and was accepted for the spring semester of 2016."
Initially, Edholm said it was easy to get her homework done while her kids were at school. She took on part-time work, though, and her studying schedule changed to Mondays and Saturdays, plus lunch hours at work. The flexibility of online education allowed her to work, be involved in her children's activities and in her community, and pursue her master's degree.
"It was a very busy time for me and my family, but they were really supportive, and
we all survived," Edholm said.
She also found the Clarion faculty to be very supportive.
"During this time, my mother passed away in the middle of a summer term, and my professor, Dr. Aristeguieta, was very accommodating, as I had to travel to the funeral in a different state," she said.
That same level of academic support was evident.
"My professors were excellent in communicating and joining in the discussion boards, having live lectures and responding promptly to my emails," Edholm said. "I felt like they wanted me to succeed."
A veteran and mother of four, Linda Christian returned to school and earned her MSLS in 2012 through our distance-learning program. Recognizing a deficit in library services in the rural mountain regions of her home state, Linda was inspired by Clarion’s Dr. Bernard Vavrek and the Center for the Study of Rural Librarianship to direct her Master’s level research toward sociological factors affecting librarianship in rural America. A direct result of her studies at Clarion included the creation of an educational library initiative called The Settlement Library Project. Through this venue, Linda serves the online library community by advocating for inventive outreach and expanded non-traditional services. As a practicing certified technical writer and copy editor particularly concerned with issues affecting small town and solo librarians, she has written topics of interest since 2009. Linda’s recent manuscript, entitled “A Passion Deficit: Occupational Burnout and the New Librarian: A Recommendation Report,”was published by the Southeastern Library Association (SELA) in their juried quarterly electronic journal: The Southeastern Librarian (SELn). The article is available here under Back Issues—Select an issue: Vol. 62, no. 4-Winter 2015, and an accompanying PowerPoint presentation is available on SlideShare.