Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How I Became a Librarian

Bowing to Anna's peer pressure (Future Librarian Superhero), here is how Mrs. Lisa became a librarian.

I will be honest-this is never a career that I thought of when I was younger.  I went through the traditional ideas of nurse, doctor, lawyer, and teacher.  I was a regular user of my local public library.  You could regularly see me checking out 30 Sweet Valley High books as that was our teen section 25 years ago.  I was that kid who finished the summer reading program the first week.  I just never put 2 and 2 together and thought of the librarian as a job.

I went to college and have a double major in both psychology and music.  I picked my classes based on what I found interesting with no eye towards the future.  The big thing that was missing was that I never knew what I was going to do after college.  I didn't have a career in mind.  Looking back on it now, how do you realistically expect a 20-year-old to decide what they are going to do for the next fifty years?  Unfortunately, that day after graduation day comes sooner, rather than later and somebody will be expecting you to pay the bills.  My college job as a page at the local public library ended with graduation.

At this point, I still wasn't thinking "career".  I got a full-time job that summer working at our local Barnes and Noble.  While I ran one of the departments, I was the person who got volunteered to put on the costumes for all of our big events.  I don't know if it was my natural exuberance or my gullibility that got me that job.  I have been everything from Lyle Crocodile (worst costume ever to see out of) to Miss Lilly (best EVER accessories-you get her red cowboy boots).

I was still floating around in my not-a-career land when I met my husband and we were about to get engaged.  This was the point where I decided that I needed to do something career wise.  I needed to do something more before the family and kids came along.  I looked at all of my skills and what I liked about my current job and decided to become a librarian.  Until I hit the age of 22, I didn't even know that "librarian" was a job possibility.  If you know me, then you will know that I don't do anything by half measures.  Once I made my decision, I got my application into the local university for their MLIS program, started classes 2 weeks later, and found a job at a local library in their circulation department.  I was THAT person who took four classes a semester so I could finish my degree before I got married.  (My advisor did at least say something this time.)  I switched jobs 6 months later to do straight children's programming at another public library.  By the time I graduated 1 year later, I had the degree and the experience to move into my current library system.  Luckily they were hiring!

I started with my current library system 12 1/2 years ago.  It's not often that you go into an interview and ask for vacation days right away (as I was getting married 2 months later).  I will admit that I was one of the youngest librarians that I knew as I was only 24 at the time of graduation.  I think of my twenties like I think of my teenage years-you think you know everything, but in reality you don't.  I spent the last 12 1/2 years learning on the job before I became a department manager.  I am still learning as every day is an adventure.  (Today I learned where the fire extinguisher was.)  There is always something new to do, a different way of doing things, kids who grow up, etc. that keeps my job interesting.

So that is how I became a librarian.  What did I learn from my experience?  It is important to promote what we do.  If I didn't know that "librarian" was a real career option and I am one, what do you think that the public thinks?  One way I combat this is that with every tour or school visit, I start off with who I am and what I do that makes me a librarian.  We talk about how long I went to school and what I do every day.

How did you become a librarian?

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