Erik Berman, Mover & Shaker

Career Blog

Published: April 28, 2017 by Kate M. Spaulding

Three(!) San José State University School of Information graduates have been designated as “Movers & Shakers” by Library Journal for their awesome, transformative work in libraries. You can, and should, read all about it in the iSchool Alumni News.

I thought it would be a good opportunity to pick their brains and find out All the Answers in pursuit of career nirvana. Last week we heard from Cynthia Mari Orozco, who was recognized for her work towards universal inclusion. This week, I present Erik Berman, whose role as a “change agent” in teen librarianship earned him this honor.

Was there any particular course that has helped you get a job or succeed at a job? Students are always looking for course recommendations!

For me it was two classes:

  • 261A. Programming and Services for Young Adults changed me from a teen librarian to a teen advocate. It helped me really understand why we do what we do as librarians and inspired me to keep on pushing forward.
  • 283. Marketing of Information Products and Services was a class I never expected to take, yet it became one of my most valuable resources. As a librarian, you will be doing marketing, to your customers, to your bosses, to potential partners, and to more people than you can count. I use the techniques I learned there on pretty much a daily basis.

More generally though, I just recommend you try to take classes that let you experience as broad a segment of librarianship as possible. Being the best academic librarian at a public library will give you an edge, and vice versa.  

Based on your LinkedIn profile, it looks like you’ve been working in libraries since your undergraduate (maybe high school?) days. What inspired you to get your MLIS? Have you found it useful/a good investment?

I never planned to be a librarian.  Since I’d read all the comic books in the library, I thought it would be a good summer job. It just became a summer job that I never happened to quit.  After I graduated from college (and realized that I didn’t want to actually do what I had studied), I did a bit of soul searching and realized the things that I wanted to do – help people, learn and share information, read buckets of comics – I could do as a librarian. Going back to school and earning my MLIS really opened up a lot of doors for me in terms of the jobs and career paths available, but it also prepared me to do what I love for the rest of my life.  

What is the best career advice you’ve gotten and/or what’s your favorite career advice to give?

Learn all you can and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. The profession is changing so quickly that we are adding and adopting new technologies all the time, especially in the public library sector. I never thought I’d be using a laser to cut things or teaching teens how to build a drum beat, but that’s now a significant portion of my week. 

Also, jump head first into the professional organizations. I have met some amazing librarians, gotten valuable advice and mentorship, and generally been welcomed in with open arms.

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