Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Library Story -Part Deux

To promote the field of librarianship, librarians that blog have been asked to tell the story of how they became librarians.  So here's my part two....

When I returned to Ohio and started college, I immediately got the job of an OhioLINK assistant.  OhioLINK, for those that don't know, is a state-wide consortia system that all colleges and universities in Ohio, (public and private), share in which to distribute materials to their users. If you're at Kent State and you need an item from Miami University, you can make a request and it usually arrives within a few days.  I processed incoming and outgoing materials at Cleveland State and really enjoyed the people I worked with. But, it still never occurred to me to become a librarian. 

I took some time off of college and worked in marketing and as a server, a temp, a bartender and a million other jobs, often 2 or 3 at a time to pay bills.  Eventually I found my way back to school and decided I wanted to write.  I also knew that no matter the talent, very few writers can make a living at the profession, so I needed a plan B.  I also had a number of friends that were working as writers during the day, for the free papers or magazines, and they all said that it was a real struggle to come home at the end of the day and write for themselves.  That kind of scared me.  I didn't want to end up being tired of actually writing.  So that's when I decided that I wanted to find something very different from writing to do during the day, so that at night I would savor the act of coming home to create on the page.

You would think at this point I would say, "And that's how I came to the conclusion to become a librarian," but you would be so wrong. That is actually how I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be in business. In my last semester of college I applied to a large financial firm, they "sponsored" me, and by the end of the summer I passed the Series 7 Stock brokerage exam and Series 66 Insurance exam.  I worked as a financial adviser for a year, which requires a lot of time (70-100 hours a week) and was completely burned out after a year.  It was during that year that it occurred to me that I might want to do something a little better suited to my personality.  I liked helping people, and it was enjoyable to educate them regarding their finances, but I had so many other interests, I knew I couldn't stay narrowed into one field. 

So, I quit my finance job, found a position as an administrative assistant, and took a year to re-group and apply for library school. I started classes one year later.  I initially thought I wanted to work as a children's librarian, because I love children's books, but dismissed the idea due to their pay, and as they always say in library school, "Just liking the books does not a good librarian make."  While I applied to many scholarships in library school, I was unable to attain any, so paying back student loans, and paying bills would have been an impossibility on a Children's Librarian salary.  I then thought I would like working in a Special Library.  Since I enjoyed working in corporate settings, to a certain extent, I thought being a librarian for an entity or corporation would be fun.  I'm still not excluding this option.  But, when I realized the variety of positions, and the multitude of tasks that academic librarians can pursue, I decided that academia was what I wanted to do.

At the beginning of my second year of library school I quit my Admin. job and got an assistantship working in Kent State's Archives and Special Collections.  It was exactly what I needed.  I was able to see the range of work available to those working in an academic library, engage in a lot of creative activities, and learn from a lot of honest conversations with the librarians the challenges of; attaining tenure, attaining a tenure-track position, being limited on budget, limited on materials, and limited on staff, (among many other things).  The year got me very excited about Special Collections and Archives, as well as academic librarianship.  Which, as I work through my Residency, I am still excited about today. 

So who knows what my library story will look like 5 years from now.  I might be in reference and instruction, or working in outreach and marketing, working in archives, pursuing a Ph.D, or working in a Special or Public Library.  Who knows. There are so many possibilities.   

So how's my writing coming, you might ask.  Well, I do a little here and a little there, and I'm definitely coming up with more story plots and ideas than in past few years. But I've found that my hobbies, like writing and crocheting (I make CroShannons - I have labels) and my new hobby of sewing stuffed animals (think Tim Burton, not Teddy Ruxpin), and of course reading are infinitely more exciting now that I am truly enjoying my career.  And, AND, surprise, surprise, I thought that librarianship would be my means to an end, but I am really, really liking the profession. I had no idea I would like it this much. I feel like I stumbled into something, and it just happens to be the perfect fit.  Go figure.

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