Interview with Lauren Pressley

Lauren Pressley is an Instructional Design Librarian at Wake Forest University, and the author of So You Want To Be a Librarian, from Library Juice Press. I interviewed her about her book by email the other day so that you could hear what she has to say about it at this point, now that the book has been out for a little while.

Why don’t you describe the book So You Want To Be a Librarian?

So You Want To Be a Librarian is a book for those thinking about entering the field, or those just starting library school. I was excited to work on the project because I find it really rewarding to work with people who are just getting started. This book seemed like a way to reach a broader group of people, rather than those who happen to be part of my network or geographically nearby.

The book is structured around basic information about the field. The background it provides will be useful for readers who are trying to imagine what type of work they might like to do and the different possible career paths they might take. I give an overview of types of libraries, types of jobs within libraries, current professional issues, and getting the MLS. I also was able to interview several librarians about the field and the included interviews provide a variety of perspectives and a broader view of the field than I could have provided alone.

So You Want To Be a Librarian is designed to be a quick and easy read, while still containing a lot of useful information. If you have questions after reading it, feel free to leave them on the website: I’d be happy to continue the discussion in the blog!

What has the response to the book been like?

It’s been surprising! I’ve heard more than I expected from people who have read it and are already working in the field. I didn’t expect current librarians to read it, but several have said they were interested in reading my perspective. These librarians have said that they were surprised the book made them appreciate their work and profession more. Now that I’m further from library school, and more specialized than I was in the beginning, I can understand that reaction a little bit better. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture, and the book is designed to provide just that view.

I haven’t heard directly from very many people just considering the field, but I have heard good things from those who have contacted me. There aren’t many reviews up on sites like Amazon or GoodReads, so at this point I’ve either heard from people directly or seen messages pop up on Twitter or in discussions on library related blogs.

What was the process of writing it like and what have you learned from doing it?

I learned that writing a book is a bigger project than I realized it would be! Getting the words on the page was pretty easy for me, but the follow up work was challenging.

Since I only have one job, I wanted to be sure to have experts in each area read through what I had written to make sure I didn’t misrepresent anything. I had to write pretty quickly, and get the text into a format that I was comfortable with early in the process, so I could divide up the text and send it to people working in different areas and in different types of positions. People very kindly took the time to read through what I wrote and gave me some good feedback. Organizing the interviews also took a while because I wanted to find people to represent many different types of libraries, positions, and perspectives.

Writing a book was a meaningful experience from me. Both the easier and more challenging times helped me learn how to take on projects of this size. And the process itself helped me gain a better understanding of what life is like for the faculty members that I work with every day.

Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for Library Juice. I’m glad that writing the book was rewarding. As you know, I am very happy with how it turned out and thank you for your work.

Note added 10/16/2012: Library Juice Press and are campaigning to “unglue” this book so that the e-book version will be available under a creative commons license.

3 comments on “Interview with Lauren Pressley

  1. I bought Lauren’s book primarily because I love her blog, and greatly enjoy the quality of her writing and thinking, and secondarily as a show of support to a friend and colleague. As a librarian with 17 years in the biz (clearly not the target audience) I didn’t think I’d necessarily get much out of the book, other than an enjoyable read.

    Well I got that, but I also learned A LOT!! Lauren did an amazing job of covering so many aspects of librarianship–aspects that I frankly don’t engage with or think about often– that I got much more out of the book than I ever imagined I would.

    Reading it was stimulating, energizing, and thought-provoking. It gave me a clearer idea about what my colleagues across the profession do, and I felt myself developing a stronger connection to a profession that I already felt quite connected to!

    Based on my experience, I highly recommend the book to seasoned professionals as well as newbies. If you work in libraries, regardless of your position, or time in the field, this book is for you.

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