2017 Early Career Librarian Awardee – Leah Airt-Atkinson

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By Leah Airt-Atkinson

I began my career as a librarian in October of 2014 following an 8-year adventure in the United States Army. I have often felt paralyzing insecurity of being a new librarian as I negotiate spaces paved by the librarians who came before me and move into uncharted territory in a new career. My experience as the Early Career Librarian Scholarship Awardee at the ACRL/NY Annual Symposium was a day of clarifying discussions about what it means to be a librarian working as a librarian.

The conversations at the event were held bluntly and with an open expression of ideas. There were many different types of institutions and librarians present at my table throughout the day; we were able to speak to our differences as well as think about what we all have in common. I enjoyed hearing about interactions with other early career librarians and the challenges and promises we bring to the field.

I began to have a more focused reflection about my day-to-day work as a subject librarian as I listened to various stories about problems that have persisted in our field for decades and the steps the librarians in the room are taking to address these problems.

I’ve returned to my home institution with new questions about patron needs, my collection development strategy, and what I bring to this space as an early career librarian – not with a paralyzing insecurity about that fact, but with a renewed confidence of how I might approach my work.

In addition to holding an undergraduate degree in sociology from North Georgia College and State University, Leah Airt also holds a master’s degree in library and information studies from Florida State University. Ms. Airt served in the United States Army and is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom. Her professional interests include examining the information ethics of Geoinformation services, exploring critical and feminist pedagogy in the information literacy classroom, and assisting veterans with their transition to civilian life through yoga and developing information pathways.

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