Dear Annoyed Librarian,
I have a PhD in English, but haven't been able to find a decent teaching job for several years. However, I heard that librarians are hard to come by, so I thought maybe I could get a job in a library. After all, I spent a lot of time in libraries when I was in grad school. And I have a PhD, so that means I'm obviously smarter than all those librarians who don't. I realize being a librarian isn't quite as prestigious as being a real professor, but maybe I could get one of those "subject specialist" jobs I heard about, where at least I wouldn't have to interact much with the students. I'm not sure what "reference" is, but I've bought a lot of books. I also used the MLA Bibliography on the computer a few times. What do you think I should do?
Dr. Possible Librarian
Dear Dr. Possible,
You sound like the sort of stellar "go-getter" we need in libraries these days, so by all means I think you should apply for all those "subject specialist" jobs you keep hearing about, and don't worry that you know absolutely nothing about librarianship. It's very simple stuff. If you can teach 10 courses of freshman comp. a year--which you've probably been doing to support yourself--then you can be a librarian. In fact, that's the major requirement for being a librarian, so be sure to mention it prominently in your cover letter.
Also mention that you've bought a lot of books. Most academic libraries these days just purchase whatever Amazon.com recommends based on their profile, so that's pretty easy, too. And I'm sure your doctoral work on whatever tiny subject you covered in your dissertation gave you ample experience with the international book trade and all of the traditional resources on literary scholarship. Heck, you probably know Wing and Wellesley and the YWES by heart. (If you don't know what those are, don't worry. Neither does anyone else!) The only thing that separates you from real librarians is the acronyms, so be sure to study up on them: OCLC, RLG, BI, MARC, NKVD, etc. Look 'em up!
And be sure to hold out for a great job your first time out, because after all, you've got a PhD! That's serious stuff. Don't take that job at a branch campus of Western Dungheap State University, even on the off chance it's offered. That's the sort of place you might have had to teach at, but you can expect better things as a librarian. Accept nothing less than a branch campus of the University of Dungheap itself!
In fact, I think you've made a very wise choice, and I think you'll be a very hot commodity indeed. Right now, you're just some academic loser who finished a PhD and then hung out on the margins of academic respectability for a few years teaching low-level courses for pocket change, some guy who has no marketable skills other than grading essays and selling plasma. People probably look upon you as some pathetic clod who just couldn't cut it as an English professor but was too stupid to realize what a loser he was. But that's not how we librarians would view you. No, in the field of librarianship, you'd be a god!
We need more like you!
The Annoyed Librarian