I’m already pretty familiar with the Library Routes Project because it was a source of inspiration to me while I was hunting for my first library job, and subsequently for my graduate traineeship. It was encouraging to read about people who had managed to build a career in libraries despite initial difficulties and setbacks. I won’t blog about my roots/routes here as I did this for Thing 10, but I do have a few extra thoughts to add on why I decided to become a librarian.
I wouldn’t say that I ‘fell into’ librarianship as a career accidentally, which is what seems to have happened for many people on the Library Routes Wiki. Instead, despite having no previous library experience, I made a conscious decision to pursue librarianship as a career once I had finished my MA in English Literature. It was a decision that I spent a lot of time thinking about before committing to it, as prior to this I had thought that I might eventually pursue a PhD – I was certainly encouraged to do so by my wonderful lecturers at Warwick. However, in the end I realised that I couldn’t keep on being an English student indefinitely, and that becoming a University Lecturer was just not for me – and so I decided that it was time to move on.
I knew that I still wanted to work in the education sector, because education was (and still is) very important to me, and I knew that I wanted a role where I would be able to help people. This, coupled with a chance discovery of the existence of graduate traineeships, led me to consider working in libraries. I think that my interest in library work was also partially driven by my romantic notions about inspiring in others a love for literature and learning. As learning and reading had always been very important for me, I wanted to be able to promote these things and to support other people in their own quests for knowledge. Librarianship seemed like the perfect career which would enable me to do this.
As it turns out, perhaps my early romantic notions of librarianship weren’t that unrealistic after all, because my first library post in a public library did enable me to promote reading to others and this was one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. The graduate traineeship which I did afterwards was also immensely valuable and taught me about all the important aspects of librarianship, as well as allowing me to support the education process by helping students directly with their information needs and enquiries.
Recently, I’ve developed an interest in library services for children and young people and I’m hoping to explore this interest in greater depth during my MA year at UCL. I’m really keen to learn more about the educational needs of this particular group and how I might support these needs as a librarian. At the moment I have very little experience in working with young people, but I’m hoping to volunteer as a student mentor or tutor this year in order to improve this, and I’m also hoping to do my MA work placement in either a school or an FE college library. I’m feeling very positive and enthusiastic at the moment about exploring this new area of librarianship and I’m glad that I’ve chosen to work in such a varied and flexible field which allows me to explore different career paths according to my developing professional interests.
So, to summarise, my reasons for becoming a librarian are strongly linked to my passion for education – and although it’s clear that my library career route is still in a state of flux at the moment, I’m certain that librarianship will ultimately prove to be the ideal career choice for me 🙂