Friday, February 11, 2011

Bookish Jobs For Bookish People (02)

As a blog run by college aged kids, the thing most on our minds, aside from books, is what the heck we are going to do with our lives. We all joke and dream about having a job where we could read or blog all day and feel pangs of jealousy when we encounter someone who does just that. In my (Jamie's) job search, I've realized that there are so many different types of bookish jobs out there that I had never even thought about. In college I never thought I could be in the book industry because I never wanted to be an author or an editor or a publisher. I didn't think there was anything else out there. I've come to realize that there so many types of bookish jobs out there for people of varying strengths and abilities and I want to spotlight these jobs... and thus began our monthly feature--Bookish Jobs For Bookish People.

I apologize about our lack of posting this feature after we featured the awesome Erica from Harper Perennial.  I got really busy in life but we are back up and running for 2011!

Name: Jen Watson (@Librarygal)

Job Title: Children’s Programmer, SR. Library Assistant.

My role includes planning and implementing several literacy based programs for children ages 0-12 and their families. I visit schools in the area, host tours of the library, provide readers advisory, reference and general patron services. I also assist with collection development and the operations of the library.

How long you've been in this position: 3 years

What prior position(s) did you hold before this position?

I worked in a book store for 5 years and did training, and event planning in addition to selling books. Before that I was an Early Childhood Educator in a childcare.

What type of higher education or training do you have?

A Diploma in Early Childhood Education. I’m still working on a degree majoring in Child, Youth and Family Studies.

What degree would the ideal candidate for  this position hold?

Bachelor’s of Education or Early Childhood Education.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you:

A Typical Monday

I begin work at 9 am (unless its Tuesday or Thursday then I start at 1:00) and prep the library for opening.

I check my email and then go over the programming plans I have for the day.

I step up my programs and wait for the children and their parents to arrive.

On Mondays I have two programs in a row “Tales for Two’s” and then “Preschool”. I have 20 children in each program plus their parents so it makes for a busy morning.

Programs are finished by 11:30am I then help at the desk until lunch.

After lunch I either have meetings or time to plan and prep other programs. I have 7 programs a week so having this time is really crucial.

5:30 is time to go home.

My schedule varies and so do my responsibilities depending on the needs of the library-but I love the variety of things that I do.

Three qualities/skills you should have to excel at this job:

You must love children and it takes patience, creativity and enthusiasm to run programs. You need to have excellent time management skills, flexibility, and have experience supervising and developing staff.

What is your least favorite aspect of your job?

I wish I didn’t have to collect fines, or bill patrons who have damaged or not returned books. It reminds me of working in retail and dealing with unhappy customers. The library should be a happy place.

Biggest perk of your job: Aside from working with kids and talking books all day? The library is fabulous at developing their staff; the professional development opportunities are great. Also. staff don’t pay fines.

Tell us one of your best memories on the job:

I plan and implement a program called Reading Buddies. It’s for children in grades 1-4 who are reluctant/struggling readers. We play literacy games, and practice reading skills, but my main goal is to keep it fun. One of my favourite memories is watching this one boy who at the beginning of the session hated to read, (his mom was forcing him to come) but by the end of the session he had made such progress and his attitude had changed toward reading. I’ll never forget him or his mom and how proud she was of him. I’m so lucky to have a job that enables me to witness wonderful moments.

What do you think the biggest misconception is about your position/industry?

That we know and have read every book in existence. Please don’t be offended if I haven’t read a book your either looking for or excited about.

That we sit behind a desk... I’m on my feet all day!

That everyone who works in a library environment is very introverted and quiet- I’m the complete opposite and am known to break out in song at different point through the day.

That we only have books. It’s amazing how adaptive the library is; we carry books of course but so many other things as well. (although sometimes I feel a bit like a blockbuster movie store)

Complete this sentence. This job is not for you if...You don’t like people. I’m with the public all day; this job can’t be done behind closed office doors.

What advice do you have for people who are interested in your position?

A background in the education of children is necessary, I would start there. A lot of the daily operations in the library can be learned on the job, but in order to be a programmer, you really need the background in education. When I was taking ECE, I never dreamed at the time that I could apply that knowledge for a career in library services. There are a lot more doors open that we often think.< Fun Question: If you could switch jobs with one person for a week who would it be? I don’t have a specific person in mind, but I’ve taken a couple of courses in publishing/marketing and with my love of the book industry I’d love to work in Publicity at a Major Publishing House. My dream is to someday be a host of a children’s TV program......silly right?

Totally not silly! And thanks for telling us about your awesome job! It sounds like you truly do love it and THAT is important. And please...can you get me out of my library fines!? :) Check out Jen at her blog -- Lost in the Library. 


  1. I love this feature. I want a book related job. :)

  2. i'm going to be watching eagerly for these posts as i start to (gulp) think about what to do after the peace corps. love this feature, and i'm glad you brought it back!

    -- ellen

  3. What an excellent feature! I think it's a great idea to give others an idea of what types of bookish jobs are really out there. Granted, most normally do think of the writing and library industries when there are so much more, and I can't wait to see what others you feature. :)

  4. Yay, I'm so glad you brought this feature back :) I love reading about bookish jobs and learning about different things in the industry!

  5. I never really thought about all the bookish job options either! I just want to get into the industry too!

  6. Great feature. I would love a bookish job!

  7. I love this feature. If you ever want to interview a community college English instructor, let me know.

  8. Another misconception about librarians is that we are all old ladies with white buns and glasses who "shush" people a lot. :)

    Depending on the library and position you are applying for, most library positions (though maybe not this one) look for an master's in library science; at least, this has been my experience in the job market.

  9. This is an absolutely amazing feature! Absolutely perfect for someone like me who's just begun her post college job search! Jen Watson's job sounds like something I would absolutely enjoy. If only I could go back to school and pick up another degree...

    I look forward to more of these in the future.

  10. This is a great interview & such an interesting blog topic- glad to have caught it! Not just for college students, either! Thanks.

  11. I love this feature! Can't wait for more posts!
    And I would certainly love to get any kind of bookish job some day!

  12. Love this feature! I just graduated a few years ago, spent two years working for a publisher, and have now moved to advertising/marketing. But I think it's important to realize all the other bookish jobs that exist outside the world of editing. Now if only I could find a way to make a living reading and blogging all day...


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