Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version



Chapter 12 in The Future Academic Librarian’s Toolkit: Finding Success on the Job Hunt and in Your First Job, edited by Megan Hodge. Atlanta, Georgia: ACRL, 2019. 328 pages. ISBN 978-0-8389-8957-9.


Copyright 2019, the authors. License CC-BY-NC-SA.


After reading this chapter, you will be able to:

• construct and maintain a professional reputation in order to advance in the profession and be sought after for service and scholarship opportunities;

• describe effective methods of becoming involved in professional associations in order to bypass the barrier of needing-to-have-experience-to-get-experience; and

• construct effective narratives in order to effectively advocate for promotion and/or tenure.


Success, defined as career progression, is a primary concern for new librarians and library school students in this era of constantly shifting priorities. Stacking your own unique skill sets establishes your professional reputation and can make you irreplaceable. Being thought of as irreplaceable can lead to significantly higher job security, better pay, more opportunities, respect from your peers, awards and honors for your work, and leadership opportunities. Succeeding as an academic librarian requires the construction and maintenance of a professional reputation, involvement in professional organizations, and construction of effective narratives in order to effectively advocate for yourself in promotion and/or tenure reviews.


Imagine your career as a movie and that you are the writer and director. One of the most famous screenwriting mottos is “know your ending,” which, in this case, is your vision. How do you envision your career? The clearer you can see it, the easier it is going to be to reverse-engineer your way there. Once you know the direction you must take, you can create steps and goals that help you achieve that vision. Each goal can be broken down into smaller, easy-to-complete mini-goals. Each step will bring you closer to the destination, just as each goal you set will build your capacity to reach your career nirvana.