It’s been a while since I updated this site — about 3 years — and I’ve been thinking a lot about the name DIY Librarian.
When I came up with it, I was a newly-minted librarian just starting a new job. I was full of the idealism I acquired in library school, immersed in the mindset of punk and DIY culture, and determined not to lose any of that as I started down my career path. I was, I thought, putting in a couple of years at a big state school before embarking on my next adventure.
I stayed in that job for 9 years. Even though I was in the middle of a big campus where football and fraternities ruled, I managed a small library in a research center. I worked with a small staff and a small budget, and when we needed something, we often had to build it ourselves. Do it ourselves.
When I finally did move on, I went about 10 miles down the road to become the director of the American Philatelic Research Library, where, again, I worked with a small staff and put my DIY mindset to use.
After 7 years, I came back to Penn State in January, this time as the Librarian for Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures. I’m no longer the director of a specialized independent library. I’m one of many subject specialists in a huge academic library system. Does DIY Librarian still apply?
For practical purposes, since I’ve been maintaining this blog, off and on, in various formats, for more than 15 years, and since my Twitter handle is @diylibrarian, it makes sense to keep the name.
Letting go of the practical considerations of online identity, I still like the name. When I teach library instruction sessions, I think about whether I am teaching survival skills to get through this assignment, or lifelong skills that can be transferred to another environment. My hope is that I’m teaching my students how to do it themselves.