Reflections and ponderings: a librarian's perspective

Thing 10 – why librarianship #cpd23

Posted on: September 4, 2011

Well, better late than never I guess.  I’ve had the beginnings of this post in my mind for a very long time, and somehow am only just getting around to it just now.  I’ve been very busy with life and work stuff and that’s my only excuse…for now.

So for thing 10 we’ve been asked to write about our experiences of librarianship, how we got started and where we hope to go.  Well then…lets get cracking! 

I think, having read a few other people’s posts for this thing (one advantage to being late to the party again), that I’m one of the rare people who are in the library world due to design and not an accident.  I remember clearly being asked when I was five years old what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Being a fairly serious child I gave this considerable thought and about 15 minutes later declared:

 “I want to work in the library, so I can read all the books in the world and not have to buy them all.” 

Ok, so I’ll admit at that age I incorrectly assumed that if I worked in the library I’d be allowed to read all the books – an assumption I’ve moved on from.  I spent most of my time either in a library or on the way to and from libraries, so I guess my parents shouldn’t have been surprised at that answer really!  Summer holidays from school were punctuated with two or three library visits a week (not an easy task with a 20 mile round trip) to replenish my reading stock, and I think the staff saw me as part of the furniture as they often talked me through the processes they undertook and allowed me to issue and discharge my own books using the old Brown system of filing – I was actually so excited by this that they sometimes let me file other library member’s cards as well. 

So from that point onwards my goal was clear, I investigated my options, and became a Saturday assistant at one of my local public libraries a few weeks before my 16th birthday (they allowed me to start early due to my enthusiasm and desperation at the interview when the issue of me being too young came up).  I also spent as much of my time as possible finding out what it would need for me to be able to be a librarian, I had one big advantage in this quest in that one of my aunties and two family friends worked in the library world in Scotland, they were able to answer questions and brought me back to reality when I became unrealistic in my dreams! 

For a few weeks after a huge argument with the careers advisor at my secondary school (an argument that still makes my blood boil many years later) I toyed with the idea of primary school teaching, but after a week of work experience in a school I realised that my heart was really in the library not the classroom.  Having appeased the careers advisor who didn’t think librarianship was the career I should be following I was able to focus again on what I needed to do in order to achieve my dream of being a fully qualified librarian.  I visited three universities who were offering undergraduate degrees in Librarianship (or similar degrees) and ended up at Loughborough, I’d applied for a sandwich year and as such ended up being one of two students studying Library and Information management for my final year, I also have the (dubious) honour of being the last person to graduate from that degree at undergraduate level. 

The part of my career I hadn’t planned for was what happened after my degree.  I spent a couple of months doing some classification and cataloguing for an environmental agency whilst applying for jobs in public libraries.  At this stage I came up against a few problems,  for any of the Librarian posts I applied for I had the same response of “not enough experience” and when I applied for the library assistant posts was turned down due to the fact that I was over qualified.  The accidental part of my career was when I applied for a post in an academic library – a sector I hadn’t really considered before.  I was given an opportunity to start at the University of Northampton (or University College Northampton as it was at the time) and the post I applied for was an entry-level one that meant just being out of Library School wasn’t an issue.   My role at the University has changed in the past 7 years and although my job title is still the same the responsibilities and duties have changed substantially.  I’ve also had the opportunity to complete a Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching Higher Education (PGCTHE), which was challenging yet fun, perhaps I’ll get around to posting my reflections on that process at some stage soon.

After this years LILAC conference I have to admit to having rethought my younger decision of not wanting to work in a primary school, however if i ever go down that route it would be as a librarian not as a teacher! 

That just about covers where I’ve been…so what next?  My next aim is to complete my Chartership (putting that on here doesn’t make it reality does it…?)  I have spent the last couple of years concentrating on the PGCTHE so now I feel that I should put my head down and concentrate on Chartership.  Following that I’ve got it in my mind to investigate various Masters degrees.  Although I am certain that doing my Library degree as an undergraduate one was the correct route for me to take, I do think that having a Master’s degree might be an advantage for future careers.  The hardest part is deciding what area to commit too…on one hand I am interested in looking into archival subjects, however I’m also interested in e-learning and furthering the learning I’ve done for my PGCTHE.  Alternatively to all of this I could undertake study in a totally different subject and go from there.   I honestly think that this will take some serious thought before I make any decisions, and some of it will depend on where it looks like my job might be taking me.  I’d be interested to hear from other people who have come to libraries through an undergraduate route and see their opinions – have you undertaken further study, if so in what areas, if not then is it something you’re considering? 

Well that’s enough from me I think, I might post again tonight, to try to bring myself slightly closer to the current thing…but I’ll see what inspiration I get first!



1 Response to "Thing 10 – why librarianship #cpd23"

[…] already blogged about my route into librarianship as Thing 10 I’ve just added it to the library routes project wiki, so I’ve done all that this […]

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