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Anne Bradley is a Reference Librarian at St. Louis Louis County Library and St. Louis SLA’s Membership Director since 2014.
What do you consider your biggest challenge in your career? Or, what is a challenge you faced in your job or career, and how did you deal with it?
Finding my first full-time position in the library field was definitely a challenge for me. I graduated from the University of Kentucky SLIS program in 2010, and moved back to St. Louis that fall. I applied to jobs everywhere for the first year or so, and then limited my job search to areas near St. Louis. I was lucky to have a full-time job in another field at the time.
I think my two biggest hurdles were to not become discouraged with rejections or grow complacent and settle for my other job; both of these made it tempting to apply to fewer positions and let opportunities pass by. Having a support system of other professionals helped a great deal with both of these, and I wish I’d sought out a mentor during this time. However, I did keep in contact with many of my classmates from graduate school as well as some of my professors. I was even offered help and job leads by some of the hiring managers who had liked me, but ultimately decided on another candidate.
I started a part-time Reference Librarian position at Fontbonne University in 2012, and found out about our chapter of SLA shortly after. I joined the programming committee and met more library professionals in the area at chapter events, expanding my support network. I worked at Fontbonne (and my other non-library job) until 2014, when I was hired as a Reference Librarian at St. Louis County Library. I wish I’d joined SLA and become involved sooner! But otherwise, I’ve been very happy with my career path so far and am looking forward to the future.
What’s the one piece of advice you would tell someone new to the field?
Volunteer with SLA! It’s a great way to meet other professionals in the area, and it’s the best way to know what events and opportunities are coming up. Also, if you’re still hunting for your first job: don’t get discouraged, and take every opportunity that helps you gain experience, meet people in the field, or get advice. For instance, we have a mentorship program in SLA that could be a great asset.
What do you value about SLA?
I think the community of SLA is hugely beneficial. I appreciate the variety of events, from presentations to library tours and happy hours. Being on the board as Membership Director has been a great experience, too – it’s helped me become more familiar with the people in our chapter, and get a better idea of what the organization is doing to serve our members.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
I’m trying to read all of Tamora Pierce’s books this year, because I didn’t read them as a young adult—I’m in the second series from the Circle universe. I’m also listening to Dear Life by Alice Munro.
What’s your favorite library you’ve been to that you’d encourage others to visit?
My favorite library I’ve been in is the Long Room at Trinity College Library in Dublin. I also got to walk around the new central branch of the Seattle Public Library last summer, and that was amazing too. And of course, if you haven’t toured our own Central Branch of the St. Louis Public Library, you’re missing out!
Lastly, how can people connect with you?
I’m on Goodreads, Twitter, and LinkedIn – any of those are great ways to connect with me.