Undergraduate Work

16 Feb

As a shout out to my undergraduate college, Denison University, I wanted to talk about my undergrad degree and what I plan to do with it.

I got my B.A. in East Asian Studies and focused on Japanese language and literature.*  I didn’t want to do translating work, as honestly I was never spectacular at kanji and always felt my speaking ability outshined any writing I did.  I don’t think my personality is well-suited to teaching, although I do keep that in the back of my mind as a possibility to examine further one rainy day.  Those two things being the case, I knew I had to go to graduate school.

I have a family member who was a librarian and I had considered becoming one since my teens as a remote possibility.  But I realized that combined with my B.A. I could do awesome things.  That thing is subject librarianship.

Public librarianship is not an accurate picture of the profession as a whole; there are archives where you deal with primary materials, rare books where you deal with old and rare stuff, academic/research librarianship, library management, digital, and subject, to name a few.  Maybe I’ll do a post on it.

Subject librarianship is great for someone who got their undergrad and then realized library science is something they want to do.  It requires a degree, bachelors or masters (sometimes more) in the field, plus your masters in library science.  For example, a French Studies subject librarian would be required to have a degree in it or some related field, proven knowledge of the language, not necessarily fluency, and proven expertise regarding the subject matter.  Expertise is usually ascertained by the interviewer rather than academia (you don’t have to be published to be an expert).

I could easily do subject librarianship in East Asia, Chinese lit, or Japanese literature.  Chinese would be a bit difficult since I don’t know the language, but with subject librarianship the candidate pool is often so limited they’ll compromise as long as you’re strong elsewhere and the target demographic is reading translated materials (often the case).  If you don’t speak the language, you can often figure out just enough to have the important stuff in the native language as well.  These jobs are usually in academic libraries, so faculty can help you with native materials.

I know I’ve said elsewhere that library management is something I’m interested in, but I would really love to get a chance to do East Asian/Japanese subject librarianship since I do love the language and literature.  I had an awesome professor in school who encouraged our thoughts about works even if he didn’t agree with our analysis and who instilled in me his enjoyment of the always-complex, oft-absurd, entirely-nuanced genre of Japanese literature.


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