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Career Strategies for Librarians
Top Ten Ways to Burn Your Bridges in Library Land
by Sarah Krygier

As a former library volunteer, a current library employee, and a soon-to-be library school graduate, I have
had the opportunity to observe many people attempt to ruin their careers. Some have succeeded and
burned their careers to the ground, while others had kind mentors who helped them see the error of their
ways.  

But if you want to burn bridges as efficiently as possible, here are ten ways to start.  This is by no means
a set of rules that you should follow, nor does doing the opposite of each item guarantee you career
advancement.

10. After your resignation, send a global e-mail to all library staff complaining about how a senior
manager handled a personal issue with you. Tell everyone in the whole library system exactly how you
feel about the manager.  Then, don’t forget to include that senior manager as a reference on your next
job application. You are practically guaranteed to never work in libraries again.

9. Make sure that one of your friends from outside of the library hits "reply all" to your global e-mail and
sends out an e-mail referring to all the managers as "fat cows." This will work especially well if this is
certain to go to the director, who is well respected in the library community and serves on – or better yet,
chairs – committees at the local, state and national levels.

8. If you frequently work with the public, try your best to be as rude as possible. Not only might this get
you fired (a sure way to burn a bridge), but you might also offend someone like the mayor, a member of
the Board of Supervisors, or the state librarian, before you even know it!  This could also result in your
boss coming under scrutiny for poor training skills – with this trick, you harm more than just yourself.

7. Ask everyone you meet for a business card, and before you tell your boss you plan to resign your
position, call every one of your "contacts" and beg for a job.

6. If you work in an academic library, call all professors by their first names, even when speaking to
students. Also, insult the alumni whenever you have the opportunity. Referring to them as "stupid old
coots who can't let go" will do wonders for the sinking of your career!

5. When given the opportunity to work with the Friends of the Library (or a similar organization), it is best
to ask the volunteers why they don't have anything better to do with their time. If you insult the people who
fund a good 60% of children's and YA programming in your public library, you're sure to stir up some
anger in your supervisors and in the volunteers – so many bridges burned, all at once!

4. Tell everyone you meet exactly what you think is wrong with the way things are done and start writing
up your proposals for how to change them, especially, if you are brand new to the library. If you notice a
better way for the literacy staff to display their brochures, you should rush into the office and tell them
right away. If you notice that the chancellor mispronounced the name of an author in his or her last
speech to the campus, set up a meeting and tell him or her about it.  To ensure that someone hears
your ideas, make certain to send follow-up e-mails or make follow-up phone calls on a weekly basis.  If
you make as much of a pest of yourself as possible, someone will certainly notice!

3. If you’re still in library school, send scathing e-mails to your professors about each and every
complaint you have. Too much reading? Send an e-mail! Displeased with a class in the first week of
school? Send an e-mail! You don't like the color of the logo? Send an e-mail! Professors' schedules are
just as hectic as students' schedules, so if you send them as many time-wasting e-mails (or, even
better, voice mail messages!) as possible, you will certainly kill off a good number of professional
contacts.

2. Neglect to return e-mails and phone calls – contacts hate it when you only get in touch to ask for
something! So, avoiding all follow-up conversation really shows that you needed the person only so you
could get ahead.

1. Lastly, say what you will about simplicity, but the tried and true methods of coming to work late, leaving
early, and taking extended lunches and breaks remain among the best methods for ensuring that you'll
never work in this town again!

About the Author:

Sarah Krygier is in her final semester at San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information
Science, on the way to a career as a children’s or YA librarian. She is a strong believer in learning from
the mistakes of others!  In her “spare” time, Sarah edits the newsletter of the American Library
Association Student Chapter’s newsletter at San Jose State University, the SLIS Descriptor (http:
//slisgroups.sjsu.edu/alasc/newsletter.html).

Article published May 2006

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