Librarianship was a fairly obvious career path for me. I was organising my mother’s magazines by the colour of the cigarette advert on the back cover even before I could read. (I should imagine this was very annoying for my poor mother who had to remember whether it was Marlboro or Silk Cut who had promoted the magazine with the pattern in she was looking for….)
I didn’t do much with school libraries (I was always too busy singing in choirs at lunchtime) but I was a regular visitor both there and at the public libraries. Even the silly careers choice software thought I should be either a. librarian, b. archivist or c. curator. So I went and did my obligatory work experience in an specialist academic library (a teacher’s friend was the libararian there…) and that went so well I got a month’s paid work out of it. I also learnt about CILIP for the first time, and the different routes to Chartership. Knowing about the end goal at the beginning was immensely helpful. But it did mean being mature enough at fifteen to plan your career to twenty-five or so.
I think that work experience was hugely important to me. It helped me decide that yes, this is the career for me. I like organising things in order to help people find them. That works. I’m happy with ICT. I can cope with awkward customers. I even like the dull shelving. Great. Because of that experience, I am always happy to take work experience students in my workplace to give them that opportunity and “pass it forward” as they say.
Decided on a degree in English Lit and Lang (Newcastle) followed by an MA in Library and Information Management (Northumbria) then the plan changed slightly when I got my job immediately after finishing the taught modules. Did dissertation part time over the next year and graduated a year late. Immediately started Chartership (before I lost momentum) and got that a year and a bit later in April 2009.
I’m still in the same job six years later (I do love being my own boss) but I know it is also not the field I expected to end up working in. I don’t have a particular love of mining or railways. I quite like history. That helps. But I know very little about engineering which limits how well I can answer some enquiries. My solution is to know lots of people who do know about engineering, and ask them for help with the technical stuff.
My own personal love is children’s fiction. Not necessarily the children – I wouldn’t be a public librarian if you paid me (which these days is unlikely…) but the books themselves. So I am very lucky that the National Centre for Childrens Books is here in Newcastle and I keep a good eye on their vacancies page and keep myself up to date thanks to the public lectures ran as part of their work. I would love to have time to volunteer there but that’s Thing 22 so I’ll save that one!