Tuesday, 11 October 2011

23 Things for Professional Development: Thing #20

I have now had a look at the Library Routes project wiki - and dutifully added my Thing 10 Roots/ Routes post to it. Having read some of the posts, it seems that many now-librarians didn't seem to think of, or even know about, librarianship as a career. Whether it was our first serious job after university, or a job we thought of after having tried a number of other careers, there was often something else we thought we wanted to do (or were told to do) first. For me, it was publishing. That never really happened as I ended up working in a library and loved it too much to leave.

But perhaps the thing that struck me most when reading the blog posts on the Library Routes project wiki was just how diverse people realised the profession could be after joining it. A common theme seems to be the willingness to just jump in and give new things a try.

I guess in both these senses my career path to becoming a librarian was fairly typical - although I did learn at a fairly young age how varied the profession could be. In my very first post, working in a busy public library at the age of 17, I talked to children about their books, helped elderly people complete crosswords, explained fees and fines over and over again, found out how big the population of the UK was, directed people to the closest bus stop, helped teenagers find missing books, recommended books I thought avid readers might like... all in the space of 4 hours on a Saturday morning.

But then I graduated, went to work in an academic library, and had to learn a whole range of different skills. In that sense, I'm no different to any other librarian on the Library Routes wiki - I'm still amazed at the variety of jobs on offer in the library and information profession. Five years ago, I'd never heard of institutional repositories. Now I'm the Repository Manager.

I suppose my advice to people earlier in their career would be to keep an open mind. Try out as many new things as you can, and always be willing to learn new things. If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, you'll probably love working in libraries - they're incredibly diverse and change a lot, all the time!

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