Friday, August 19, 2016

Public Relations in Manhattan to Librarian in Höganäs

Yes, I was a publicist, a long time ago (1998-2008) and in a galaxy far, far away (Manhattan), but admittedly my heart was never really in it.. Sure, it was glam, sure I hobnobbed with the upper eschelons of media celebrity, sure I worked with household names,  and sure I have some stories to tell and gossip to spill (it will all be artfully covered in my memoirs one day), but I prefer my life the way it is now. In late 2007, I discovered that I was expecting my first child. It was admittedly a happy surprise, as I hadn't really planned on getting pregnant at that point, but was thrilled with the idea of starting a family. I did know that I needed to change careers though.

Late night events, journalist dinners, press junkets, being at the beck and call of my clients, I knew  that this wasn't the kind of motherhood I wanted to have. I wanted to change careers, but to what?

So, I did what I normally did in those days, I called my oracle, my idol, my Yoda and my best friend: my amazing late grandmother Rose. Rose had been a diplomat's wife and had accompanied my grandfather on his consular posts in Latin America during the second world war. Rose was also trilingual (English, Spanish & Portuguese-she picked up languages whilst living abroad) and loved to read. She had graduated first in her class at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn (Barbara Stresisand was an alum there too, but not the same year of course) and she wasn't satisfied with the idea of being a lady who lunched/Diplomat's Wife. She wanted more. So she started by working as a translator and bibliographer with the War Effort. And when they returned to the States, Rose attended Columbia University (at that point they had a masters program in library science) and got her degree in library and information science. She had been working as a librarian ever since. Even after she retired, she still worked 9 hours a week at East Brunswick Public library in the children's section, as it brought her great joy. She loved her job. "You should be a librarian. You'll not regret it" was her advice.

Although I had strongly considered studying early childhood education to become a reading specialist, I was not thrilled with the idea of the American education system (the tyranny of the Core, of pushy American compitiparents) I knew that she was right. Besides, I could take some educational courses in my library degree. She knew me better than anyone. El Sueco, the other person who knows me better than anyone agreed wholeheartedly. I found that Queens College of the City University of New York was accepting late applications for the library & information science program that started in January, 2008. I applied and got accepted. I completed 2 terms of study, gave birth in late summer (my contractions actually started during a cataloging class!) and took the fall term off. I returned to work as a news archivist and librarian at WABC Eyewitness News in 2009 and finished my degree in 2010. Sadly, my grandmother was too frail after a stroke to attend my graduation. But she did give me her Dewey Decimal System tool as a present. It's hanging in my office in Höganäs now, although we use the SAB-systemet in Sweden.

Rose died in 2011 and we moved to Sweden shortly after. I gave birth to my surprise twins in 2012 (Rose was also a twin, so I still think of them as her parting genetic gift to me), I was home with my children and learned Swedish and finally landed this job in Höganäs in 2016. It is a vikariat position, ie. a maternity cover, so it's not a permanent job, but it's a pleasure and an honor to work at a library as lovely as Höganäs stadsbibliotek, so I'll take whatever I get.  Permanent jobs as a librarian are hard to land in Sweden, probably because they are indeed such lovely luxury jobs, so there's very little movement on the job market. I do have a permanent job at a wonderful local school that I'll be returning to when this maternity cover is over, as a fritidspedagog, which is roughly equivalent to a programming/after-school librarian, but I will cover that on a later blog post. I feel happily rewarded in both jobs and I am grateful for both!


  1. Thank you! And I love having you read my blog. I'm such a huge fan of yours xx