Q: What advice can you give me about transitioning from a school library to a public library? Has anyone else done this? Is it even possible?
TA: You’re in good company because this is a question we get pretty frequently—Can I transition from one type of library to another? In my opinion, the best place to start is with a careful analysis of the skills and experiences you have and then compare those with the skills and experiences required in the new position. Also be sure to think about user populations and work activities, and how these can be the same (and how they can be different) across different types of libraries. The goal is to identify transferable skills and highlight those in your application materials. It’s also helpful to mirror the vocabulary you see in the vacancy announcement or position description. So, for example, instead of using the term “student” or “pupil” when describing your user, use the term (possibly “patron” or “customer”) used to describe the user population in the vacancy announcement for the public library. The more connections you can draw between your experience and the desired qualifications of the new position, the easier it will be for the hiring manager or committee to see you in the position. You should check out our other posts on transferable skills, specifically one posted in July 2010.
For others out there: Have you made the career switch from school libraries to public libraries? What advice would you offer?