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United We Are a Force, and Individually We are W.O.N.

Photo Courtesy of Josette Dubois

Women of Note celebrates the unique talents of women of Hampton Roads and seeks to raise awareness of issues women face in the 21st century. We are well aware of the many hats women wear throughout the day as well as throughout their lives and we would like to give women the opportunity to share their experiences juggling these with our community. By sharing our experiences, we hope to inspire others, learn from their perspectives, and foster a dialogue that creates solutions. Today we spot light Josette Dubois.

Affiliation(s) (past and present):

I have worked at the music library of East Carolina University; the Greenville, North Carolina Public Library; St. John’s College Library in Annapolis, Maryland; Howard County Library System in Columbia, Maryland; Virginia Beach Public Library and now Slover Library in Norfolk, Virginia.

Aside from the library world, I am also an actress, singer, art model and entrepreneur. Having many talents is actually very useful when you are a library programmer as I am!

How long have you been (working in/participating in) your field? How did you get into it?

I have been working in libraries for 18 years. 4 years part time, and 14 years full time. My first job in the music library at ECU was my work study job. My first major in undergrad was music (specifically, vocal performance). I enjoyed that work so much that I decided to work over the summer for a public library as well. My love of media and interest in helping people made the job a perfect match, and I kept that job for the last two years I was in college. I applied to libraries after graduation and got a full-time position at St. John’s College Library. And I have been working in libraries ever since. I received my master’s degree in Library Science in 2013.

How long have you been working/ living in in Hampton Roads?

I am a transplant from Maryland and Delaware. I have been living and working in HR for almost 6 years.

What advice would you give young women going into your field?

Librarianship is about far more than just books. We are a community gathering place, so we see people from all walks of life with a variety of issues that we need to try and help with. Customer service skills are a must, as are flexibility and compassion. While the master’s degree is necessary for higher level jobs in the field, it is not a requirement to work in libraries. In my opinion, it is better to find out first if you enjoy the field before pursuing an advanced degree. So, if you are passionate about knowledge, organization, helping others, etc., get some experience volunteering at your local library and get your resume out there!

Does your gender influence your relationship to your work? In what way?

Since the library worker field is predominantly female, I have been fortunate to not experience any negative issues from my co-workers due to my gender. However, the stereotypes of the frumpy librarian and the sexy librarian are still prevalent among the rest of society, and both have been geared toward me over the years. In addition, some patrons do not take women in roles of authority seriously. Especially when they look young. It is very tiring to have to fight against the viewpoint that women are not as responsible and proficient as men. But it is very much a cause worth fighting for.

Any closing thoughts?

Though there are very few rich library workers, there are many fulfilled library workers. This job, while sometimes difficult, has so many rewarding moments. When you introduce a child to what will become their favorite book. When you get a shy patron out of their shell through a fun and educational program. When you help a patron create the resume that will help get them a job. Hang on to those moments when times get tough and you start reconsidering your choice of career. There are far more of them then you will ever know.

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