Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Traveling Librarian?

I have always longed to travel, and I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I can incorporate travel into my career - either by going from place to place with my home base in the US or moving away to a job in another country. When I decided that I wanted to become a librarian, I figured my travel opportunities would rely strictly on vacations, conferences, and volunteering.

So when I came across this article from the Library Journal, I got a tingle of that old wanderlust. The title of the article is Going International! and was written by a librarian who had worked internationally for 11 years. One thing that really impressed me about this article was that it was more than a simple "You should be an international librarian; it's great!" article - the kind that you read with high hopes but come away with no useful information. This article had it all: personal stories, suggestions for what type of person should go, the areas of librarianship hiring internationally, where to look for jobs, contract suggestions, what you should consider if you have a family or pets traveling with you, and the knowledge that you're hearing from someone who has first-hand experience with all of these issues and knows what they're talking about. To top it off, the article, which was considerable in length, was followed by a list of resources as long as the article itself.

One thing I really liked in the article is that she addressed the idea of fear as a motive keeping people from pursuing international work - fear of travel in hostile times, fear of living in hostile environments, and fear of the unknown. One thing that holds me back is fear of change - if I take this big step, will it have been the right decision? What if I take a giant leap - move far away, leave everything behind - and it was a great big mistake? But if you let that fear affect your decisions, you'll miss out on a lot of fantastic opportunities, like working as a librarian in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, one of the places the author worked.

The moral of this story? If you're interested in international librarianship (as a career or as a volunteer) this is a great article. And don't let fear keep you from doing something amazing.

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