Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I, Librarian

This isn't a review of the comic above (which is excellent and I am sorry to say my copy is in storage), nor is it the photo post that should be here - or rather should have been a week ago. That is coming. First I need to look at a topic I've been neglecting.

Up there in the title of my blog is the word "Librarian". Hardly any of my posts have touched on libraries or librarianship. The word's not just up there to be decorative though - I am a librarian, and at present I'm very fortunate to be a "real" librarian - it's taken six years, a lot of learning and no small number of reality checks.

I'm not going to pretend to be a source of enlightenment for new librarians, especially as I am still very much one of those - I'll leave that to letters to a young librarian. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on any other topic either. But I'm going to start putting up some of my experiences and interpretations of the library world I live a large part of my life in. One of the reasons you've heard so little in the past has been that I'm careful about what I post. I'm conscious of what I say about my experiences and the people I have met but don't need to avoid the library topic altogether.

I came to Information Studies as a person who hardly went into libraries. In primary school and for the first few years of high school I practically lived in the library. By the time I left school for university that had changed. At first I felt I had no time to spend there, eventually the library-going habit was simply lost. I do not recall ever considering a career in libraries.

I spent four years at university studying marketing and management because I didn't know what I wanted to do and it was the current "thing". My marks were respectable but not good enough for a graduate program. A few months after graduation I did what I thought I was supposed to want and got a job.

My first full time job was with a company with a small office. I served customers; quoted custom work; processed work orders; redesigned the system for handling order paperwork; analysed costs, prices and profit margins; looked at OHS... my job was good, the people I worked with were a good team and I had an opportunity to use my skills. Despite these positives I realised that the path I had put myself on didn't go where I wanted to go. I was looking for a new career within the year.

With a bit of research and reading of university course descriptions I had two options - I could go and teach English in Japan (which sounded like fun and also felt a lot like running away) or I could take the parts of my job I'd liked the most - seeking and working with information - and head back to university to become a librarian. I can't quite put my finger on why I went one way and not the other. I believe I made the right choice.

I took to the studies with great enthusiasm and a year later I had a degree, an academic award and professional recognition. At that point I thought I was there, that I'd made it, I knew how to be a librarian and that a nice secure job was right around the corner. It took a number of reality checks to see just how far I still had to go and how much I had to learn. I still have a lot to learn - and I know that there will always be more to learn.

I've spent the last five years in various voluntary, temporary and contract positions learning from a number of amazing people while progressing from library assistant to library officer and now to librarian. Before I started in my current position a senior librarian told me that with this opportunity to be a librarian I would learn for sure if I was on the right path and if I was not learning that would be a positive outcome in itself. Two months in I can't give you a final answer. That will have to wait until October - but so far I am finding the work challenging but enjoyable.

Despite not having a final answer I'm hopeful that in libraries I've found a direction that challenges me and allows me to work in areas that interest me with the objective of improving the lives of others.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes opportunities come out of nowhere, or we stumble over them accidentally. Sometimes they come as a result of ungodly amounts of work. Sometimes, they fall into our lap.

    Good Luck!