This is a post for the Library Routes Project which was started in October 2009 for Information Professionals to share their route to the profession.
My roots and my route
Ever since I was tiny I have used libraries and been a fan of them. When I was really small my choice of reading was somewhat narrow – I’d hand the books in on the way in, walk round the counter to where the returned books were and get the same books out! Luckily I eventually appreciated the range of books on offer.
My future as a librarian was probably foretold by the fact I used to set my books up as a library, stamping them and sticking coloured labels on them. However I must confess now it was a future I tried very hard to avoid.
When I was at school I said I wanted work experience as a journalist because I liked writing. This apparently translated into work experience as a librarian in one of the local branch libraries. It did not spark a great love for the profession as the library was deadly quiet and still had a card catalogue (this would have been about 1993), my main memories are of a very dull period where the days dragged on forever.
One of my biggest interests is family history and so I decided to do a library degree with a view to becoming an archivist.
And here’s another confession … I avoided all modules on my degree with the word library in them. Little did I realise this would actually provide me with the skills needed in modern academic librarianship.
When I graduated I took a bit of time out and visited family in Australia on my return there was an advert in the local paper for a part-time Assistant Librarian at the local university library. I applied and was lucky enough to be appointed.
This was perfect, I realised that my heart really did lie in libraries while still supplementing my income working at the local zoo.
When the opportunity for a full-time job came up I applied, despite the fact it seemed like a job slightly beyond my experience but the panel saw something in me and seven and a half years later I am still an Information Adviser working with the School of Health.
I love my job, I love the people I meet, liaison with academic staff, being part of the course development teams, the freedom to try new ideas and be at the forefront of initiatives. We have been very lucky in that we are left to dictate our own work which provides freedom. Teaching has become a large part of my job and I enjoy trying new things. I have worked tirelessly to develop inductions targeted at the level of students and needs of different types of courses.
As a multi-site university the opportunity to share ideas with different librarians is also wonderful.
However I am now ready to spread my wings and try new opportunities. I’d like to move towards library management, which would use the skills I have from running my own business (I ran a bookshop for 3 years – running your own business gives you management skills beyond the libraries which I hope gives me a unique profile.)
I never thought when I started my course I would actually be proud to say I am a librarian but proud I am. It is a great profession which sometimes goes unappreciated but which is vital to the success of any institution. I hope others find their way to it and get as much from it as I do. We need enthusiastic newcomers!