February 17, 2018

Jerome Myers | Movers & Shakers 2004

Anthropologist of Libraries


Jerome Myers originally dreamt he would be a cultural anthropologist, but instead he ended up negotiating contracts for major publishers. When his librarian sister suggested that academic librarianship might be more satisfying, he signed up for Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) librarian trainee program and enrolled in the library and information science (LIS) program at Pratt Institute.

What Myers found lacking in both were chances to explore some basic anthropological questions: Who are librarians? How do they spend their work lives? What are the differences among them?

It seemed unreasonable to Myers that you could achieve your LIS degree with so little understanding of the diverse ways librarians apply their professional skills. As president of Pratt’s student association, he scheduled monthly trips to different libraries, including those in London and Oxford, to see how librarianship was practiced.

Meanwhile, he become increasingly dissatisfied with a trainee program that didn’t expose him to a range of library services or rotate him through diverse branches.

When library administrators asked why Pratt students weren’t interested in public libraries, Myers explained that BPL’s uninspired program turned off potential recruits. In response, Myers was invited to create a model library trainee program.

Ginnie Cooper, BPL’s new executive director, approved of Myers’s plans and hired him as the program’s coordinator. His program allows trainees to get hands-on experience in different specializations. They ‘shadow’ library managers while they rotate through children and young adult departments, community outreach programs, reference services, and IT. Meanwhile, Myers offers workshops and seminars to provide the necessary context. Later in the program, trainees develop their own projects to improve library services and design a self-directed course of study to strengthen their management skills.

Myers intends to become a library educator so he can integrate such real-world experiences into the curriculum. If all goes according to plan, LIS students of the future will have no problem answering the questions: Who are librarians, and how do they spend their lives?




Current Position: Librarian Trainee Coordinator, Brooklyn Public Library
Education: MLIS, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
Hobby : Mountain biking in the Catskills