The Annoyed Librarian wrote a wonderful post (I think they're all wonderful) on ambitious librarian careers and what "ambition means" in our field. I have been thinking about this a lot as I hear about classmates who get jobs at research libraries and universities I have actually heard of, and others who are quickly moving up the ranks or have impressive job titles. My job is not impressive by those standards, and my career is becoming tied to another person who has a more lucrative career. The only place to move up without changing institutions would be to one day become the director. Our director is thankfully not going anywhere soon, and I currently have no ambition to become a director anywhere soon.
I am still young in my career, I have been a professional librarian for two years. The more I talk to more experienced librarians, the more I realize I still need to learn. I love what I do and where I am. I never want to go to a big research university. I don't want the stress of tenure, I want to publish when I feel comfortable, I want my employer to respect me and my personal life (esp. considering librarians' salaries anywhere), I want to have close contact with students, do creative things, be encouraged to try something different. I have all of that right now. The AL mentions happiness as a possible measurement of success in librarianship, and I have that.
She also mentions relative "fame" as a mark of success. I am thinking this is perhaps what I should strive for. I don't expect to be such a recognizable name as Nancy Pearl or Steven Bell. I will probably always be at a small library, so those at a big library are likely to not listen to anything I have to say. But to come up with good ideas, get them to work here, publish practical articles and blog posts that other librarians can use in their libraries. I can't think of anything better than that. So I feel very green at the moment, but these are admirable goals and I don't think I will completely disappoint my favorite LIS professor who wants to see me as a director of a big library one day. The thought of all of those meetings and politics would drive me to hate librarianship and I love it so much now.