Transition Q & A: Peter Konieczny

Peter Konieczny earned his MA in history and MLS from the University of Toronto. He is now the librarian at Oxford College and the editor of Medievalists.net and four other history websites. Follow him@medievalicious.

When you finished your MA, did you have a plan for what you’d do next?

I finished my MA in 1999 and at the time I was looking to go into a PhD program. Unfortunately, there were few scholars who could take PhD students interested in medieval military history at the time, and none at the University of Toronto. That summer I got a job working at the University of Toronto library system, which I really enjoyed. I continued to work there as I kind of halfheartedly looked for a graduate school to go to in the United States.

After talking with a lot of friends in medieval academia, I came to the conclusion that even if I did get into a PhD program, getting a job afterward would be very difficult. Therefore, in 2001 I decided to do a new masters’ degree in library science.

What do you do now?

For most of the last ten years I have worked as a librarian, including stints at the University of Toronto, a public library, and my current job at Oxford College, a small private career college that runs programs in health care. Being the librarian for a small college (about 200 students) also means that I do several other jobs for them—I manage their website and social media, edit a monthly newsletter and write most of their marketing material.

My other job, which is slowly becoming my full-time position, is co-owning and running (with my business partner Sandra Alvarez) five different history websites—we post news, articles and videos. The most popular is Medievalists.net, which has been online since 2008. Originally, we saw this as something we could do on the side, but once we saw how many people were interested in it, we began to take it more seriously and our hope is that we can both make a good living from it.

What kind of tasks do you do on a daily and weekly basis?

I do a mix of my own writing for the website, and curating other content that exists online, such as news from a university or a video of a lecture that took place. The websites try to appeal to a broad audience, so one day I’ll be writing about ecclesiastical history in thirteenth-century Cyprus, and the next I’ll be reviewing the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

What are your favourite parts of your job(s)?

I think it is all the great people I get to meet, both online and in person. We regularly go to conferences, where we get to hear people talking about their research and passion in history.

What advice or thoughts do you have for post-MAs or -PhDs in transition now?

Keep in mind that you will come out of your education having expertise in one subject, but that you probably need a few more skills that you will need to learn elsewhere. My training as a librarian was really vital in helping me create Medievalists.net, and I continue to explore new ways I can learn—I just recently completed a university course in magazine editing.

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