cpd23: Thing 10 – Routes into librarianship

For this week’s Thing 10, I am looking at my route into librarianship:
Why did I join the career?
Where am I now?
How did I get there?
What am I planning to do next?

Why did I join librarianship?
From a very young age, I have always loved to read books, combing through the great collection of the public libraries nearby. I loved the quiet and studious atmosphere as well as the idea of advising people on books and the best way to find the required information. During one of my school holidays, I completed an internship at the Department for Children and Youth Books at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – and it didn’t change my mind.

Where am I now?
I am deputy librarian in the Branch Library for Engineering and Social Sciences at Staats- und Universitaetsbibliothek Bremen. I am responsible for the collection development in various subject areas as well as information literacy instruction for several bachelor and master degree programmes. I like to be in contact with students, faculty and staff, providing individual consultations and pointing out important ressources.

How did I get there?
In Germany, in the time after the Bologna process, there are three levels of training in librarianship, corresponding with the middle, upper and senior grade of the library track of the civil service:

  • FaMI (Fachangestellte für Medien- und Informationsdienste) / media and information service specialist, a three 3 year state-approved professional training programme;
  • bachelor in librarianship, a three-year degree programme at a university (of applied sciences);
  • bachelor/master in another subject + (a master degree in librarianship OR the Referendariat, a two-year traineeship).

During the last few years, universities of applied sciences started to offer master programmes in librarianship that follow-on from the respective bachelor (konsekutiv). Although they qualify for the senior grade (höherer Dienst) of the civil service (if stated in the accreditation), it will be interesting to see how the job market and the libraries’ employment policies react to graduates with both the B.A. + M.A. in librarianship in the next few years. There has been quite a controversy what constitutes the characteristics of librarians working in the senior grade (see also the VDB statement on accepted alternatives).

For me: I completed a four-year diploma in librarianship at the Faculty of Information Sciences at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam in 2002 (diploma thesis) and a doctoral dissertation at the Berlin School of Library and Information Science at Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin in 2010.
Before my current position, I worked as technical services librarian in a smaller library at a private university, gaining comprehensive background knowledge about publishers and electronic resources.

What am I planning to do next?
In my current position, I am walking down a cul-de-sac: In my current grouping, I will reach the end of the pay scale in 2 years (with 30 years of my working life still ahead of me). Apparently, according to the regulations, my doctoral degree (following-on a diploma by a university of applied sciences) is not the admission ticket to the senior grade of the library track of the civil service. I have been strongly encouraged to complete a (university) master degree either in library science or in management.  Other roads to go:

  • to take part in continuing education courses in leadership (unfortunately, there is no chartership or certification),
  • to broaden my knowledge in information literacy instruction,
  • to expand my professional network
  • and – if the opportunities arise – to place some publications.

It is probably going to stay interesting for a while.

Further reading
„Broker von Informationsdienstleistungen“ – Berufsbild Bibliothekar (Goethe-Institut, Feb 2011)

Photo: At Talybont Reservoir, Wales, July 2011.


2 thoughts on “cpd23: Thing 10 – Routes into librarianship

  1. Hey Sabine, I want to add, that you have already been asked for writing articles about your special subject for a handbook of LIS, chaired at our annual conference and thus become a betterknown and connected person. Maybe placing some good comments at the right opportunities might help?
    In my opinion you won’t find that many Germans talking about their future job plans on the internet. Even in Xing people don’t fill in “Searching for”.

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