On the coattails of a science librarians’ conference in Upstate NY, I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between my job and my career. Sure, they inform each other, but they’re discrete. They have different goals and different circles of influence.

In one sense, I’m the Physics-Optics-Astronomy Librarian at the University of Rochester. I select monographs for one, two, or three libraries, depending on how you count. I analyze publisher packages. I do consultations and reference for every sort of academic. I talk with building managers about asbestos abatement. I move furniture. I talk with students about their goals. I serve on library committees. All of these things are centered on U of R, on making our Libraries (and my branch library) the best they can be. And that’s valuable.

But I’m also a librarian with independent interests. I’m fascinated by how students become acculturated into academia. I have opinions on how scholarly communication is changing (and how in some ways it isn’t). I serve in various functions in ALA. I’m interested in management and leadership, even though I don’t know what I want that to look like in 30 years. I see librarianship changing around me and I want to catch the wave. I try my best to pull my weight for my profession at large. And that’s valuable.

The line between those things isn’t super clear to me most days. I mean, I get that I’m paid to do things for my University, but part of that work is being an informed librarian who participates in the international conversation about we do and how we can do it better. Part of that work is inhaling and exhaling the profession. And as far as my external service is concerned, I wouldn’t have much to contribute without my 9-to-5. Theory only goes so far.

Navelgazing acknowledged, I have only been doing this for five months. I’m sure that things will become clearer over time. In the meantime, I’m just jumping in.

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