I haven’t always wanted to be a librarian. Strangely, I did want to be a librarian when I was very young. At that stage the library was one of my favourite places and I thought that librarians got to sit around and read books all day. To be young and naive! Honestly, I suppose I never really knew enough about my options at 16/17 to really see it as a viable career choice. I could have done more research but I think that when it came to making the dreading CAO decisions I was stuck between two fairly ‘safe’ choices – law and teaching. I ruled out law because I felt it would limit my opportunity to travel. And so, ended up in Arts.
While I was studying for my degree I realised that I didn’t really want to be a secondary school teacher and so I started looking at my other options. It’s not that I didn’t like the idea of teaching but felt that maybe I would be better suited to a different type of teaching. I considered trying to go down the road of academia and so entered into an English Masters course. It was during this course that I really re-discovered and re-evaluated my love for the library and in doing a reference module I finally became aware of the interesting and diverse career I could have as a librarian. I thought it would fulfill my ambition to have a job in which I could continue to learn, it would allow me to travel if I wanted and it would also give me an opportunity to teach, or do research, if that was what I wanted.
It took me awhile after my English degree to actually get into librarianship. I researched the career extensively in that time and was fully sure it was what I wanted and so I worked hard doing various jobs to save enough money to return to college. I mainly worked in fashion retail and while it wasn’t my dream job I did learn a lot about working with people, both in terms of customer service and management of people which at the end of the day will stand to me in any job I undertake in the future.
Making the choice to go into librarianship is certainly not an easy one, especially with the way the job market has been over the past few years. The fact is you will probably have to work for free to build experience and send countless applications before your first big break. You have to want it!
I’ve been very lucky in the different range of experience I have gotten since finishing college. I feel that as I am early in my career why not try and get varied experience and make the most of it. While all my experience has been in the medical rather than academic or public etc. arena, I have worked on cataloguing projects, in research which involved project management and literature searching, and now I have a very exciting role where I not only get to work in a library but also in an archive and museum. I am learning so much!
It is obviously very difficult to know if the choices I am making are the right ones and whether they will lead to something more secure and long term in the future. However, for right now I am really happy. I feel like I’m still a student, learning all the time and asking questions. Really and truly this is all I’ve ever wanted from a career.
I hope that in the next few years I continue to learn and not be scared to take on new challenges and learn from new opportunities. There are plenty of aspects of librarianship I would love to get more experience in such as teaching, reference desk, more digital and systems work – variety is the spice of life! I hope that I continue to have the courage to go for what I want and that I don’t get jaded if it’s a difficult road. I love librarianship – that much I’m sure of. And that helps me believe that I will work as hard as I can to ensure that whatever I’m doing it involves using my librarian skills and telling the world just how awesome librarians are.