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Leaving the Nest and Spreading my Wings: A Goodbye to LC

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The following is a guest post from Jennifer Harbster, who created the Inside Adams blog in 2009. She recently left the Library of Congress and returned home to California. Her new library job has her working directly with the students, faculty, and researchers at UC Davis, and with a bit of luck, she will also be blogging for the university library.

Jennifer opening up the first box of books from Carl Sagan’s Library (2014).
Jennifer opening up the first box of books from Carl Sagan’s Library (2014).

When I was in library school one of my professors asked the class, “What type of library do you want to work in?” My fellow students replied school library, university library, public library, medical library, etc. I confidently replied “The Library of Congress.” Most the students laughed at me. They giggled because many librarians have a dream to work at the Library of Congress (LC), but it’s just a dream; it’s not a goal one typically sets out to achieve. As it turned out, I was hired by LC during my last semester of library school in 2001. I spent the next 14 years and 3 months learning everything I could about being the very best librarian from some of the best people in the business.

Saying goodbye to my office and its beautiful view.
Saying goodbye to my office and its beautiful view.

During my first week at LC I was given the greatest advice from the Library’s Director of Public Service at the time, Diane Kresh, that continues to guide me in my library career. She told me to get involved and put myself out there. What she meant by this was I shouldn’t hide away in my office and just do my job. I should open myself up to new opportunities and participate with committees, panels, projects and the like. I embraced that advice and met some incredible people who helped me understand LC and librarianship from every vantage point. I worked with analysts, archivists, catalogers, copyright examiners, conservators, curators, lawyers, preservation specialists, programmers, public affairs specialists, technicians, web developers, and librarians outside my division. As I reflect, I cannot think of an area at LC that I did not, at one point, work with. As you can imagine, I worked with countless people and as a result I became an extremely well-rounded librarian.

Serial Card Catalog, 5th floor,  John Adams Building.
Serial Card Catalog, 5th floor, John Adams Building.

Thus, it makes me sad to say that I have resigned from my position at LC. You might be thinking to yourself – “That girl is crazy, why resign from a dream job?” I can give you the short answer – I needed to be closer to my family on the west coast. But I also desired a new challenge. I needed to step out of my comfort zone and learn more about what it means to be a 21st century librarian. I wanted to put myself out there again and expand my understanding of librarianship. Of course, I will be applying the knowledge and skills I gained at LC in my new job with the UC Davis Physical Sciences and Engineering Library, but I will also be picking up new skills working with an amazing team of academic librarians in the UC system.

A huge THANK YOU to the entire LC family for helping me soar to places I only dreamed about and also for understanding my need to leave the nest and spread my wings so I can soar even higher.

Comments (9)

  1. Fly high, my friend! I know you will achieve new heights. You are sorely missed here but I am happy for you.

  2. You are greatly missed, our friend and colleague!!!!

  3. We so miss you here in nerd heaven!

  4. Tough shoes to follow!
    You are missed everyday!
    I know you will do great things in the future!

  5. We miss you Ms. Harbster but LC’s loss is California’s gain. Bedazzle theme with your brilliance.

  6. You were a bright and shining star here. Your creativity can’t be matched and we depended on you to lead the way. I miss you every day!

  7. Family is a great “short answer” but, growth in your profession is a great long answer. Your vast knowledge and expertise is “star power” in my eyes. A Midwestern in fly-over land.

  8. Amazing story. You are an inspiration. I am hoping to attend the LC Summer Institute (primary sources). You are almost my neighbor here in CA!

  9. You also inspired some of us who only got to know you through the wonderful science lectures you helped host at LC Madison Building. We also miss you and your friendly welcome!

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