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Career Strategies for Librarians
NEXGENLIB-L: Networking with the Next Generation of Librarians
by Susanne Kerrigan

In May of 2003, an article appeared in School Library Journal entitled “The Only Young School
Librarian?”  This article confirmed for many young librarians that there are other librarians of their age
who are in the same situation or who struggle with the same stereotypes.  

Shortly after School Library Journal published this article, Christine Borne, a teen services librarian in
Ohio, created NEXGENLIB-L, partially inspired by the article.  NEXGENLIB-L is an electronic discussion
list that was created through Topica.  The list was created for “the next generation of librarians,” primarily
those under 30, though its members range in age from the early-20s into the 30s.  In its three months of
existence, the list has drawn a membership of over 400 members worldwide.

This list further confirmed for young librarians that there are others, like themselves, in the profession.  
For some of these librarians, this confirmation was more important than the networking opportunities
that the list has provided.  Adrienne Highler, a member of the list, explained, “I think that, possibly, the
networks were not the most important thing that I have gotten from NEXGEN.  Instead, I would say that
just getting to see other librarians (in abundance) has helped me to further validate my career choice.  I
no longer feel like one of the only three under-30 librarians out there.”

NEXGENLIB-L has brought together a whole generation of librarians from all over the world.  It has
allowed them to expand their network base, share their ideas and experiences, and speak about
librarianship, some of the present issues, as well as other shared interests such as music. “Any list that
discusses punk rock, patron flirtations, and other ‘lighter-side-of-life’ issues is a winner in my book,”
said another member of the list.

Besides coming from different parts of the country and the world, the members of NEXGENLIB-L also
come from various educational and professional backgrounds as well.  Some are graduate students,
enrolled in library schools around the country, while others are already in the field, working as school
librarians, teen librarians, reference librarians, even branch managers and directors.  It’s amazing to
see what some of the members of the list have already accomplished at the age of 26—and younger.

Discussion lists such as NEXGENLIB-L are opportune for networking.  It allows those—who might
otherwise not have the time or means—to network (through the list) with people like themselves, who
share their interests and concerns.  If not for lists, these individuals might never have the opportunity to
make these networks.  If not for NEXGENLIB-L, the next generation of librarians might never have been
able to network with each other.

To subscribe to NEXGENLIB-L, send an email to nexgenlib-l-subscribe@topica.com. [Editor's note: This
list became inactive in August 2006 when it was replaced by a new NEXGENLIB discussion list.]

About the Author:

Susanne Kerrigan is an educational media specialist, a part-time graduate intern, and a graduate
student from New Jersey, pursuing her Masters in Library Science through Drexel University.  She serves
on the Resume Review Committee of the ALA New Members Round Table.

Article published August 2003

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