I am entering the final months of my graduate traineeship. Only two and a half months left to go and I can confirm that I still want to be a librarian, yipee! The 23 Things Collaboration has come at a good time. I am going to have a think about why I want to be a librarian and what I think librarianship is all about having experienced it first hand as a trainee.
There is the age old stereotype that librarians spend their days stamping books and shushing people which still stands firm today. If you could stop someone on the street and ask them what a librarian does, chances are their response will be something along those lines. Most people I speak to are surprised to learn that you need a postgraduate qualification to be a librarian… I’d like to see them have a go 🙂
Being a librarian is about genuinely wanting to help people to learn for themselves, getting people to appreciate the value of information and knowledge and helping people to enrich and develop their own lives and society. As more and more people have access to the internet, information professionals become more important. People really do need help because even though many people think they are internet searching experts, chances are they aren’t.
I want to be a librarian because I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to leave the world of learning behind. I loved the library when I was a student, I enjoyed working in there and feeling like you’re part of a student community. Being involved with people who are trying to educate themselves sounds like a benefical and rewarding job to me.
I can also carry on with my own learning and development; how can you not when you are surrounded by so much information! Librarians have to continually learn and develop their skills and this is great because I never want to give up learning. A large part of being a librarian involves sharing best practices, developing professionally and being conscious of the ever changing world of information and technology. I want to be a little fountain of knowledge. Or at least know where to go to gather and spread some of that knowledge.
I wish I could say that I wanted to be a librarian since I was little but that’s not the case. I vaguely remember wanting to be a vet, an actress and a chef at some point but in all honesty I didn’t decide until after I graduated, and this was probably for the best, I’d be the worst actress ever. I had toyed with the idea of being a history teacher because it seemed like a more or less straightforward career move as a history graduate.
I also considered continuing my studies, possibly doing a History MA and being an academic but I hadn’t found my “thing”. To undertake the amount of research required to complete a PhD, I think you really have to be passionate about a topic and until I find that topic, I can’t even consider it. So that career path was out of the window.
I also considered being an archivist. I had an idealistic idea that I would be caring for old, crispy documents, rare books and never before seen treasures all day. I understood there was more to it than that and that but I needed to get some experience if I wanted to enter the profession.
I joined the Archives and Records Association and bagged myself a work placement in the University working on an oral history project. I worked in the Cinema and Television History Centre at De Montfort University on a project which involved transcribing interviews undertaken with women working in the TV and film industry during the 20th century to the present day. I started looking into MA courses and voluntary positions for when I graduated so I could get the work experience required for many of the courses. I got a position in my local library digitising photographic slides which the library had inherited from various council planning departments.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue with the work for very long as I had to get a full time job. So I joined the hoard of graduates working in the first position they are offered in order to pay the bills. I spent a year working in a local pub which was good, but it wasn’t what I had envisioned as an optimistic and enthusiastic graduate leaving university with my shiny new degree.
I was continually looking for graduate positions in which I could develop a career – any career. I thought I had struck gold when I got a “graduate” job at a car finance company where I worked as a customer service advisor. In all honesty I didn’t enjoy the work but I did excel in the position and was offered the opportunity to progress onto a different position within the company. My interview was looming when I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do as it just didn’t make me happy. I handed in my notice which was a crazy move considering I did not have a job to go to.
I had however applied for a position at the University of Bradford as a graduate trainee library assistant. When I first saw the opening I had the moment that all job seekers hope for… the moment you find a job that you know you would enjoy. I would love to be a librarian and thankfully this graduate traineeship has confirmed that I do want to be a librarian. After doing jobs which I didn’t enjoy, this really is the dream job.
It’s a cliché but I am a people person. Having dealt with customers since the age of 15 I don’t think I could ever work in an environment that wasn’t in some way customer/ user focused. It’s great to help people. Not serving them food and drinks or selling them car finance but giving them the ability to learn for themselves and find the information that librarians have worked hard to purchase and organise.
I wasn’t aware of the world of librarian networking, conferences and the variety of opportunities that are out there. I knew librarians didn’t just look after books but I hadn’t considered the variety of positions on offer to librarians; information officers, public librarians, knowledge officers, academic librarians, acquisitions librarians, e-resources librarians, NHS librarians, law librarians, corporate librarians, special collections librarians, embedded librarians, library managers, library directors, library systems librarians and so on.
From my course I am expecting to learn more unexpected and exciting things about the profession. I am hoping to develop a special interest in a particular area which I will be able to research in great depth and write about. It would be amazing to get an article published in a journal one day! I am interested in working in an academic library after I graduate. However, I am hoping to get more experience in different areas of the profession so who knows; I am willing to explore the world of librarianship.