Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Thing 10: routes into librarianship, or how I was always going to be a librarian

Considering this thing has made me realise that I've been working in libraries now for over ten years, which makes me feel pretty old! For six of those years it was a part-time job, for one it was temporary, but it's only really the last three that I could call a career choice. I actually intended not to work in libraries!

So how did I get here? When I was young both my parents worked in public libraries, my dad as a children's librarian and my mum as a library assistant, which is how they met, fell in love and had me. (I won a fancy dress competition dressed as a book, courtesy of my dad, when I was very small, and no, I don't have a photo to hand!) When I turned 16 I looked for an indoor part-time job after doing a paper round for a year, and started as a peak-relief assistant in my local branch library where my mum was working. I was a big library user as a child and teenager, also volunteering in my school library, and liked the idea of seeing behind the scenes, I think. I started working in different branches as well and worked evenings, weekends and holidays throughout sixth form, virtually full-time for half of my gap year, and during all my university holidays, sometimes in three different branches in one day depending on what hours were available! All for the money really.

I think I did always love it, and I got to do a lot of different stuff, but when I was thinking about what to do with my BA in English I just wanted to do something different from my parents, to make my own way in the world a bit. I was keen on the idea of publishing, and did a short course and got a few weeks' work experience, but nothing came of any of the graduate traineeships or jobs I applied for. My dad spotted my current job in an academic library, which was maternity cover at the time, in the local paper and suggested I apply. I was incredibly lucky to get it, and it wasn't long before I knew that I really did love working in libraries and was desperate to stay. I'd always liked helping people find the information they needed, which I get to do more of now, and generally trying to make sense of the world we're living in.

I got to stay, on the condition that I did my MA part-time, which I'm just coming to the end of. I'll write another post about that when I've finished though. I was a little worried when I started that I wouldn't have as much experience as people who had done a graduate traineeship, or at least not the same experiences, but that turned out to be ok as everyone could share what they knew and bring different ideas to the table. I plan to stay put for a bit now, partly because otherwise I have to pay back the money my employer put towards my course fees, but mainly because I think there's still more to learn and lots more I can do in my current position, and I'm really happy doing what I'm doing. I do want to charter though as I think it looks like a good challenge, and possibly do the PTLLS course (but no more degrees!)

It wasn't mentioned in the cpd23 post for thing 10, but if you haven't come across it before the Library Routes wiki is a great collection of blog posts on how people came to be in libraries - their roots and routes.

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