I thought I knew what a writing job was. I applied for several part-time positions at local libraries, and was hired for two of them. I worked my way up from the bottom, as they say, and now I’m managing a small staff and helping to coordinate programs for the San Francisco Public Library. In my mind, a writing job was something that you did after you graduated from college – maybe you got paid to write an article for a newspaper or magazine, or you took a creative writing class in university and got paid to pen a short story or novel. It never occurred to me that there was more than one kind of writing job, and that some employees may not even know how to write their own names. This lack of knowledge makes the work all the more frustrating for those who have to do it daily. A job in writing is a bit like a job in law, only less exciting – you deal with facts and figures all day long, and get little recognition for what you do.
Three Types Of Writing Jobs
Upon my first introduction to the world of library science, I was overwhelmed by the variety of jobs. There were so many possibilities for a young librarian to specialize in. After spending some time in the field and gaining some experience, I could see that there were actually only three types of writing jobs.
The first type is the traditional desk job. You go to work, you log your hours, you do some grunt work if there’s nothing more exciting to do, and then you go home at the end of the day. It’s a job for the little worker that never amounted to much outside of academia. You’d be surprised how many librarians fit this profile.
The second type is the field librarian. In a regular library, you may have a special area of expertise in certain areas relating to music or literature. It can be a very rewarding job, and you’ll work with all kinds of people from all walks of life. But you’ll be expected to know your subject matter inside out, and your work will likely entail a lot of research and documentation. Think of a modern day encyclopedia, only instead of fact-checking, you’re doing research and then writing the article yourself.
The third type is the community librarian. Nowadays, public libraries are becoming more and more community-focused. The internet makes information accessible to everyone. People can read what they want, when they want, and how they want. It’s a new way of interacting with literature and knowledge, and it requires a rethink of how we provide these services to the public. In a community library, you’ll get to work with patrons one-on-one, explaining concepts and helping them find the information they’re looking for. You’ll get to see the entire process from idea to creation, and get a sense of accomplishment when a book is borrowed for the first time by a member of the community.
Each of these types of jobs has its perks. The traditional desk job allows you to set your own hours, which is great if you have a family. You get to read a broad range of books, as there are no restrictions on what you can read. You’ll occasionally get to hear famous authors speak in person, and have lunch with colleagues almost every day. The downside is that you’re probably at least mildly frustrated since you have to sit at a desk all day. Even if you do have an office chair to slump in, it’s not the same as being in a comfortable position all day long.
The field librarian job allows you to interact with and learn from other experts in your field. You’ll become an expert in your subject matter, and get to show off your knowledge both in and out of the workplace. You’ll get to travel to places like San Francisco to learn about cutting edge research and technology, and then bring that knowledge back to your library. It’s a job that allows you to constantly develop and grow, and gives you the opportunity to use your skills in a way that benefits others.
The last type of job is somewhere in between the two. You’ll be expected to do a little bit of everything, but you won’t be held to any particular specialty. You’ll work with experts in the field, but you won’t be restricted to working with only music or literature. For instance, in a public library, you may get assigned to the reference desk, where you’ll do work like checking out books, serving as a guide to customers, and helping them find the information they need. You’ll also assist in the maintenance of the library’s physical property, ensuring that items are preserved in good condition.
Writing is an important part of any university education. It may not seem like it at first, but when you think about how much time you’ll spend at your desk every day, it might be the perfect job for someone with a journalism background. You won’t necessarily need a degree in journalism to be a successful writer. Many successful writers did not even have a formal education in journalism. They learned the trade on the job, and through hard work and determination managed to carve out a successful niche for themselves. If you’re looking for a way to combine your love of learning with a steady paycheck, then the world of writing might be for you.