The reasons I am drawn to librarianship are, like the job itself, multifaceted. I like the variety of work - librarians are the ultimate generalists, which suits my personality, style, abilities and temperament. I enjoy the customer service aspect of librarianship, love the technical side of things, too - I really like playing with and learning technology and databases and software. And of course there are the books (mmm . . . books). I also enjoy that warm fuzzy feeling that comes when working for the Greater Good (I do try to keep my smugness levels to a minimum).
I first knew that I wanted to be a librarian when I was about 30. I can pinpoint the exact moment of the epiphany. I was talking to a neighbour who told me that she had just quit her job to go to library school. And that was that. The more I thought about it, and the more research I did (there’s a clue, right there), the more certain I became that it was right for me. And whenever I told anyone about my plans, the response was always “Yeah, that’s kinda perfect”. My partner was completing a PhD at the time and we couldn’t afford for us both to be studying, so I waited. In retrospect, I should probably have started looking at library jobs - or at least volunteer positions - then. That would have broadened my university options considerably (I could only find one university that would take applicants without previous library experience).
Once I had decided what I wanted to be when I grew up, I started researching the process for making it become a reality - the professional bodies of the library and information profession (CILIP in the UK and ALIA in Australia) were an excellent place to start. Then I applied - for courses, for volunteer positions, for jobs. It took perseverance and time, but I got there. I have been working in libraries now for about three years, and officially as a Librarian for about 6 weeks.
Before starting the Masters, I scored a couple of volunteer positions in different library environments: one as a cataloguing and indexing volunteer at the National Portrait Gallery in London (an AMAZING and fascinating place to work!) and one as a library and archive volunteer for The Ramblers (a tiny little charity library). My first paid role in libraries was as a Library Assistant in a public library while I was doing my MA. After finishing the course, I set myself a target of working as an assistant for two years before applying for librarian roles. I extended my hours and threw myself into the job, getting involved in as many different activities as I could (say ‘Yes' to everything!) - Rhyme Time, Inter-Library Loans, e-books, writing staff guides, special projects, community outreach . . . Once I was known as a person who gets involved, I was offered more opportunities - all great CV fodder (not that I have submitted a CV for a job application in a long time).
Before working in libraries, I managed the music department in a branch of Australia’s largest home entertainment retail chain. There were many parts of that job that are similar to what I do now - customer service, database management, product knowledge, stock ordering, organisation and maintenance, merchandising . . . It was an excellent primer for library work! Other jobs I’ve had include various retail positions, some call centre jobs (market research, customer support) and a musician (guitarist, songwriter, singer in an indie rock ’n’ pop band).
The most valuable piece of advice I received about getting started in the world of libraries was “get experience" - as much as you can in as many different types of library as you can. For example, I learnt far more about cataloguing while volunteering than I did while on the Masters course. It is also a great opportunity to build connections and learn from your peers.
A couple of years ago, after I had started down the Library Path, I was rooting through a pile of old paperwork and found a letter from a career guidance session I did after finishing my undergraduate degree. The letter suggested four different careers including (you guessed it) librarianship. I have no memory of this at all. What was Younger-Me thinking?! LISTEN TO YOUR CAREER GUIDANCE COUNSELLOR! They know about what they speak!
3 thoughts on “Whybrarian?”
Hi. Great post. Your blog looks really good, well done! I like the way that you have linked a few external plug-ins to it: that really makes it look professional and advanced. Looking forward to reading more of your posts as the course goes on.
The Rudai23 Team.
Thanks for the feedback! Enjoying the course so far...
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