I want to be clear about something. I am interested in switching from academic to public libraries NOT because I am angry with or unsuited for academic librarianship. Just the opposite, in fact. I am well suited for that field. I am interested in making the switch because those same skills and dispositions that make me an excellent academic librarian ALSO make me an excellent public librarian.
It’s not one or the other, it’s BOTH.
Furthermore, it makes no sense to me that I should have to pick one track in librarianship. Together, public and academic librarianship make up approximately 80% of all library jobs. Why would I ever want to remove myself from half of those positions, intentionally? That makes no sense.
As I’ve been attempting to switch from academic to public libraries I looked for literature to help make the transition easier. What I’ve found has generally not been encouraging for someone going my direction. This is most notably represented by Annoyed Librarian‘s 2010 post Public to Academic, But Never the Other Way Around.
There are a very few more positive and helpful articles, however
Adaptable Applicants: Preparing to Change Your Library Path is a 2014 article from ALA’s New Member Round Table which aims to facilitate the transition.
- Again, from 2014, a fellow WordPress blog, Hiring Librarians, posted a reader’s question in which hiring managers from several different types of libraries addressed the issue of switching paths. Most of them are encouraging, if not all that specific. There is, however, evidence of the prejudice, as well.
- A 2002 article from LIBRARY TRENDS offers a more formal preparatory guide for those wanting to make the switch.
That’s really about all I can find about moving from academic to public libraries that doesn’t concern “leadership” in terms of library directorships.
What advice might you have?