Friday, October 29, 2010

Interview with MK Eagle

Hello to everyone! This post's featured interview is with MK Eagle--a public high school librarian working outside of Boston. MK Eagle also manages the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) blog at:
MK's personal blog, The Sagittarian Librarian can be found at

What is your educational/professional background?

I have degrees from Harvard and Simmons. I worked for three years in Special Collections at the Harvard Law School Library, then as an intern for a year at Fenway High School and Boston Arts Academy (the two schools share one library). I’m now in my second year as librarian at Holliston High School.

When you graduated college/graduate school what were your career goals/have they changed since?

I can’t really say that I had any career goals when I graduated from college, but by the time I was in my practicum at Simmons I knew I wanted to be a teen librarian.

When/how did you decide the LIS career path was for you?

Honestly, it was sort of an arbitrary decision. I’d been working in my college library for a few years and was vaguely interested in either education or libraries when I discovered that Simmons had the School Library Teacher Program, which seemed like a great mix of the two fields.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

There’s no such thing as a typical work day. I might have eight classes booked to use the library, or none. I might be doing formal, direct instruction on database searching or website evaluation, or I might only be interacting informally with students and teachers. On any given day I might weed, reshelve, catalog, update the library website, create a class resource page for a particular assignment, help another teacher use a Flip camera or create a Wordpress blog, recommend a book, go to a meeting, work with the yearbook or the GSA.

What is your favorite/least favorite thing about your job?

The teens I work with are my favorite part of this job. Classroom management is probably my least favorite—I don’t particularly like discipline.

Do you feel that you incorporate your personal interests or passions into your work as a librarian and is that something you recommend doing?
Yes, and yes.

How do you think your education prepared you/didn't prepare you for your current career?

The practical aspects of graduate work (practicum hours and field work) were the best preparation for this job. All the education in the world can’t replace experience in this line of work.

How do you think people generally perceive librarians and do you think you fit into that perception? Why or why not?

I think there have been so many trend pieces lately on “young, hip” librarians—reacting against the supposed stereotype of an older, quiet woman with glasses and a bun in her hair—that most people’s perception of librarians has less to do with stereotypes and more to do with their own experience with librarians.

What is your salary range/what can students interested in working in your type of LIS profession look to make as far as salary (both starting out and over time)?
If you plan to be a public school librarian, you can generally find salary scales for a given district. Your starting salary will depend on things like how long you’ve been teaching and how much education you have, and will most likely increase as both your experience and education increase (barring factors like salary freezes or contract negotiations).

What changes do you forsee for the field of Library and Information Science in the next five to ten years?

Technology, particularly mobile technology and cloud computing, will continue to play a much larger role in the field.

What advice do you have for current/graduating library and information science students?

Apply to every open position you find. Job descriptions can be deceptive; interviews elucidate much that may not be evident from a simple posting. Until I got to the first interview, I had no idea that the job I’m in now would involve the chance to build a brand new program with a great deal of autonomy.

And finally, what are you reading right now (what would an interview be without this question!)?

I’m usually reading several things at once, which is true at the moment—I just finished the first volume of 20th Century Boys, and I’m also working on Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead and the Pretty Little Liars series.

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