Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Librarianship, Qualifications, Careers

For Things 10 and 11 this week, I am blogging about my route into librarianship and my experiences thus far in the profession. Like most arts graduates, I was unsure of my career path after University. In my na├»ve and youthful state, I had imagined that it would be perfectly feasible to walk from my graduation ceremony into a publishing house who agreed to publish my first novel right there and then. Or perhaps I’d walk into the editorial office of the Guardian and be swept away on a magic carpet of opening nights, films festivals and cocktail parties.

Reality hit hard soon after I had relocated to Cambridgeshire as I began the inevitable rounds of administrative temping. I found myself in an administrative role in an academic environment, a good job which would have been stable enough to secure my future. And yet. Every time the word ‘library’ was mentioned, I would wonder. Ponder. I remembered my childhood days of “playing” at being a librarian. I confess, I even set up the “Friendly Lending Library” with my own books and made library cards for my readers. Not a family gathering went by without my relentless recruitment of new patrons from amongst the guests. In junior school, I became a pupil librarian. This was back in the day, with catalogue cards and manual issue.

It is odd therefore that as an adult these memories took a while to surface into the basis of a real career. It was when I really started considering what to do with my life that librarianship called to me. I am passionate about connecting the reader to their desired information and helping them to learn the skills to find and use quality resources. I left a permanent well paid administrative post to move into a junior library assistant role and I am extremely glad that I did. I have a grounding of library work at all levels, something that helps me to empathise with junior staff in a way that I suspect would be difficult if I’d not had entry level experience. I have been lucky in my career so far in that I have worked in a diverse variety of libraries in all three parts of the Cambridge tripartite system, before finding my feet in my first professional post.

I decided to begin the Aberystwyth course via distance learning after working for one year as a junior library assistant. I was sure that this was the career for me and I wanted to become more engaged with the LIS sector. I had the opportunity at that point to move into a SCONUL graduate traineeship which helped me to develop myself and to view myself as a professional practitioner. The Aberystwyth course appealed to me for several reasons: it is progressive, it ties together theory and practice, and it is affordable. I was able to apply my learnt knowledge to the workplace in order to see the limitations of theory and the practicalities of librarianship. As a keen Open University student, the distance learning world was not unfamiliar to me and I enjoy setting my own deadlines.

I completed the MSc in Library and Information Science in September 2010.
I am currently working towards my Chartership. The process is already teaching me a lot about reflexion and service evaluation. I have been in my current post as Assistant Librarian managing three collections for just over three years. Let's see what the future will bring.

6 comments:

srobalino said...

You have just reminded me that when I was in my final year of middle-school (American educated), I worked in the library for one period of that last semester. I can't remember why I did that instead of a class now. But I remember I would just sit at the desk and file the check out cards, and stamp things (I remember doing WITHDRAWN stamps). Hmmm maybe I was supposed to end up a librarian after all...

sblib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sblib said...

Hey, just thought you'd like to know, I referenced you in my blog post; we seem to have had similar roots into librarianship. Are you on Twitter? Here is the link to my post: http://impressionablesarah.blogspot.com/2011/08/thing-10-everything-is-open-nothing-is.html

Law_Lib_Extraordinaire said...

Really enjoyed reading about your journey into the librarianship world.

netaxia said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences of working in librarianship - I'm currently considering a career change into information management so this post has been very useful. Your recollection of setting up your own library as a child really struck a chord with me - I was also OBSESSED with this and even went so far as to programme my Commodore 64 to run its own library cataloguing programme!!

LottieMSmith said...

@netaxia - glad that the post was helpful! Information and resource management is really interesting and diverse sector in which to work - good luck with it all!