Once Bart received an offer from the Boston office and we decided to accept it, I started looking for library jobs in Massachusetts.
And by “started looking,” I mainly mean “began stressing about how I probably would never find a library job and would likely end up sweeping streets or something.” It just seemed like such a long-shot, getting a job in a very competitive field, especially when I was living half a continent away until only a week or two before most schools would begin their year. And unlike Bart’s field, that had a serious recruiting system in place, I felt like I was completely on my own to find and procure a job.
Bart would occasionally ask if I had applied for any jobs, and I would usually get all defensive or say how it was too early for openings to posted yet for schools. I could hardly think about it, really, without feeling ill.
Last year, the day before Valentine’s Day, Bart suggested that I probably could find a job if I really put some effort into seeking one out. After all, I had the qualifications and surely someone, somewhere needed to hire someone like me, if I could just find them. Feeling frustrated by the whole situation, but determined to prove that I was making an effort, I went online, found SchoolSpring (a national site that lists jobs in education) and filled out my application and set up the parameters to be alerted for jobs I’d be interested in (school libraries, any level, in the state of Massachusetts).
I got a few alerts here and there over the coming months, but nothing ever came of any of them. But at least I had made SOME sort of effort.
School finished and I had no real job prospects (not uncommon, frankly, among my graduating peers). I tried to imagine what I might do when we moved to Boston if I couldn’t find a job. Bart reassured me that I didn’t need to get a job and that I was welcome to stay home if I wanted to, but he also felt confident that I could find a job – a real library job.
Then, on May 22, 2009, the day of Bart’s graduation from UT and the day before I graduated, I got a job alert about an opening in an elementary school library near-ish to Boston.
In the hubbub of graduation and visiting parents and grandparents, I didn’t apply until the following week. I received the confirmation email that my application had gone through and then promptly forgot about it, as thinking about it was simply too depressing.
A week later, Bart and I were driving back from San Antonio, and I dug my phone out of the back pocket of the car seat to see a missed call.
The number listed as a Massachusetts number and I listened to the voicemail with my heart in my throat. The message was from the principal, saying she’d received my application and was wondering if I was really moving to Massachusetts since I’d indicated I’d already applied for a license, but my address was listed as Texas.
When Bart and I got home, I looked up the school and instantly had my heart set on this job. The school was old and brick and darling. I wanted this job so much it hurt.
The next morning, sitting in the parking lot at my office, I called the principal, told her I was indeed moving to Massachusetts, and would be very interested in the job. She said she’d call the next week to set up an interview.
I spent several days preparing for my interview – making a list of possible questions and formulating responses. Bart drilled me on my answers, Kay (my library mentor) gave me some helpful ideas about overarching themes to concentrate on, and I prayed my brains out.
My boss arranged for me to use a conference room at work so that I could have some quiet for my phone interview, and I spent the morning anxiously waiting for the time to arrive. I wanted this job so so badly, but I didn’t want to put all my hopes on it either. Oh, it was a long morning.
Plus, the idea of a phone interview was terrifying.
A few minutes before my interview time, I went to the conference room, plugged in my phone, and waited for it to ring.
The connection was fairly terrible and I had to ask them several times to repeat questions, but overall it went fairly smoothly. None of their questions were terribly unusual, and I felt prepared and professional. The interview only lasted about 20 minutes, and then they said they’d let me know.
Within an hour or so, I received an email from the outgoing librarian saying she thought they’d make a decision quickly and that the two of us who had interviewed (one in person and me by phone) had both been impressive.
And then, just shortly afterward, the principal called and offered me the job. I clearly remember standing in my cubicle at work, writing down the details, and feeling like this was all so surreal. I had gotten into the masters program of my choice and now I had my dream job.
I remember walking around the corner and seeing the school in person for the first time, looking through the bookshelves, meeting the principals, and aides, and teachers, pacing the room before the very first class arrived on the first day of school, driving back and forth from home to school day after day.
All of this went through my head yesterday as I finished inventory at the libraries, cleaned off my desks, locked up the TVs, and unplugged the computers.
So many pieces had to fall into place for this all to work out, and it did. And now the year is over.
I won’t be going back in the fall – I turned in my official resignation last week to the district office, and someone else will apply and interview and be offered the job. Someone else will walk into the tiny, cramped little office and sit at that desk and marvel at having a library job of their very own. They’ll envision a year worth of lesson plans, and have classes they love and classes they dread a little bit, and days where they feel like the best librarian ever and days where they feel like it’s all just such a waste and no one is paying any attention at all.
Someone else will discover the back parking lot and love the teachers at the schools and hate bus duty on cold January mornings when the wind is blowing off the ocean front.
That someone won’t be me, though, because I’ll be home with my baby.
I went back and forth about what to do; did I want to stay home? Did I want to give up my dream job? Was it a waste to have put in all the effort of this year and not get to see it pay off in bigger ways next year?
I’ve wanted to be a librarian for most of my life, and the last three years have been actively dedicated to children’s librarianship. My life this last year has revolved around my job, my curriculum, my books, and my students.
And the payback has been enormous; these two schools are filled with students that are smart and funny and light up the library when they come in, eager to ask about my day or new books or lessons. The teachers have floored me with their enthusiasm and dedication and ingenuity. The other librarians in the district have become dear friends. I have spent my working hours surrounded by books and people who love books and children who want to love books.
A year ago, I couldn’t fathom that not only did such an environment exist, but that I’d get to work there.
Those are hard things to walk away from. It’s not a snap decision to hold lifelong dreams in your hands and then give those up for an unknown future. But in the end, even more than I wanted this job last spring, I want to be home for my baby.