what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Kelly Clarkson is singing that to me right now. And she’s right. I don’t give up. Lots of the people I admire don’t either. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

And yet. In the last 72 hours I’ve heard the following stories from librarians I like, respect, admire, and love:

  • An administration that said “hey, now that you’ve accepted the Interim Position, we wanted to be sure you knew we aren’t planning to hire a replacement permanent person for approximately 2 years. Hope that’s cool with you.”
  • An administration that has started forwarding job ads for Library Director positions to the in-house candidate they actively discouraged for applying for their own leadership position.
  • An administration that’s pouring travel money into a librarian that they rejected for their in-house leadership search.
  • An administration that’s essentially ignoring a mid-level manager’s need for support, even though she’s been in the profession for less than 5 years.

Those are four prime examples of some of the problems we have in library leadership.

  • We suck our hard workers dry, and can’t understand why they turn into dust in the wind.
  • We undervalue what we have in-house, and respond badly to open expressions of ambition.
  • We compensate for our perceived failings in strange and valueless ways.
  • We forget that our really remarkable new librarians are still new librarians.

You know what? None of those things will kill any of us. And they’re likely to make us stronger. But most people who live in these environments are going to decide to be stronger somewhere else, where their strengths are appreciated, where their goals are supported, and where their needs are acknowledged and met.

Just something to think on.


  1. The first bullet point? Yeah, it happened to me, except that I wasn’t told we weren’t going to backfill my previous position. First bullet point person, whoever you are out there, you have my sympathies, understanding, and comradeship. Keep the faith. We’ll learn from these mistakes and we won’t make them, regardless of if we’re wherever here is, or elsewhere.


  2. substitute “any” for “library”, and “knowledge worker” for “librarian”, and your statements are all still very applicable in elsewhere academia, and “the real world”. Now only if more executives understood that as you do. 🙂


  3. I can relate to all that in one way or another, because I have either seen it/experienced it (first two bullet points of the second part), or seen points 2 and 4 of part one done to other people. I am glad you can speak on this (I am already worried just commenting here).

    Anyhow, best and keep on blogging.


  4. It sounds as if the problems I experience being a librarian in an academic library are the same everywhere. I agree and only wish for the day (I know it will come) that we are recognized for the skills, work, and knowledge we use and display everyday.
    My message to Jenica and all other librarians everywhere is to keep the faith. As Jenica said “What doesnt kill us will make us stronger.”


  5. Sounds familiar to me. I received my MLIS last year, have been in a mid-manager staff position for about 3 years (the first 9 months, at my previous paygrade), and my old position still hasn’t been filled. I am down positions, lacking assistance, and pretty much left to make decisions on my own – and then chastised for those decisions. My direct supervisor has been lobbying to make me a full librarian, still in my current position, but admin says no.


  6. […] in The Profession – among others, this one by Sarah Houghton, this one by Emma Cragg, and this one by Jenica Rogers.  I was fortunate enough to attend the CILIP in Wales Conference in Cardiff and was asked to […]


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