Librarian discusses past, present and future at 40


The clock read 10:30 a.m., and I waited anxiously by the library’s circulation desk. I was met by a blonde-haired, pregnant librarian, donning black-rimmed eye glasses. I was pleasantly surprised. She flashed a smile and a personality to match her bright, turquoise rain boots. She extended a hand and introduced herself. “Hi, I’m Lizz!”

Lizz perused the pages of a children's picture book that she was in the process of reviewing for a local publishing company.  Photo by Christine Truong.

Zitron perused the pages of a children’s picture book that she was in the process of reviewing for a local publishing company. Photo by CHRISTINE TRUONG ’17.

Most women older than 30 years old have accomplished typical milestones in their lifetime. These women have graduated from college, raised a family, and settled for a job that will ensure their path towards retirement. After switching careers here and there of course.

At 40 years old, PLU’s information and reference librarian has accomplished all that and more, but rather unconventionally. Lizz Zitron shared her previous career choices and experiences prior to arriving here at PLU in Jul. of 2013. “It feels good to know that I will be staying in one place for a while,” Zitron said. She offered insight on how to take advantage of life’s opportunities, rather than grovel in discontent.

On average, a freelance writer makes an hourly wage of $10. Zitron said she became dispassionate about freelance writing shortly after moving to Chicago, Ill. Zitron said that the monotony of working for meager pay disappointed her. “After a while you realize it’s not really fun, “ Zitron said, “it just becomes work.”

Following her stint at freelance writing, Zitron relocated to New York and became employed by a publishing company that sold to companies including Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart. Barnes & Noble acquired Sterling Publishing after 2003, which allocated nearly 10,000 book titles to the company’s publishing rights.

“I won’t name names, but it got to be very disillusioning,” Zitron said. “I was disappointed in the business.”

The librarian said that she was not hesitant in her decision to leave publishing. “You can’t be afraid of ground that isn’t totally solid underneath you,” Zitron said.

Zitron eventually set her sights on acquiring a Masters in Library and Information in Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The average time frame of obtaining such a degree from the intensive graduate school is three years.

She enrolled in heavy-course loads, while juggling three part-time jobs to graduate in less than two years. Zitron said that she was eager to graduate because the idea of doing something she was finally passionate about was huge. “I knew I wanted to be a librarian for sure, “ Zitron said, “and that felt great.”

Zitron said that her parents were disappointed in her refusal to pursue fictional writing, however she is passionate about the positive reception garnered through her outreach blog. Students and library enthusiasts alike can find Zitron’s blog engaging. “I never envisioned I would have this blog,” Zitron said, “but I am proud that it has helped call public attention to the value and worth of libraries.”

Among her many interests, Zitron said that comical blogs offer her relief in being a PLU librarian. Zitron said that students rarely give her problems that commonly resonate with other librarians.

Erik Tou, Visiting Professor of Math and husband to Zitron, said that his wife possesses a charming, interactive personality that is beneficial to students here at PLU. Tou said that researching and referencing libraries can be difficult for anyone. He also said that his wife is able to lower the bar and create more understanding for students. “Lizz is good at getting out of the trenches,” Tou said. “She’s not the person that stands still and she makes it easy to get help.”

Lizz Zitron staged the library's second floor showcase on Oct. 20, in preparation for enthusiasts seeking spooky, Halloween reads.  Photo by Christine Truong.

Zitron staged the library’s second floor showcase on Oct. 20, in preparation for enthusiasts seeking spooky, Halloween reads. Photo by CHRISTINE TRUONG ’17.

The 40-year-old librarian shows no signs of slowing down in preparation for more milestones ahead. After 40, chances of conceiving children decline by nearly 50 percent, yet Zitron is expecting her first child in Jan. Although she said she never intended on delivering a baby at 40, she said she is pleased with how things worked out in her lifetime thus far and is anxiously excited.

Through her personal experiences, Zitron said that she hopes students embrace the uncertainties of life with open arms, in order to better accumulate new-found understanding for opportunities in the future. She said that dwelling on personal troubles creates only a stagnant, inopportune life.

Take it from the librarian who said she refuses to stop exploring. At the age of 40, Zitron said that despite her baby bump, she will continue to seek new adventures in her lifetime. “I always felt a little cheated that we’re given this one life,” Zitron said, “whatever you do, make it valuable.”

Categories: Academics, Book Reviews, Campus, Community, Other, Parkland, Profiles

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3 replies

  1. Once again, I enjoyed reading your article! It makes me want to know the librarian.

  2. Great article about a great librarian! Lizz is one of the best and brightest in our profession.

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