Thinking about proposed budget cuts, new technology issues, and other issues in the profession I thought I’d take the time to simply write about why I became a librarian, and how that turned out roughly a decade after I made that decision.
Graduating from college I simply did not have enough work experience for a variety of reasons. I had fast food, grocery store, pizza delivery, and few other short-term jobs, but nothing for a long period. I think most employers like to see a person working for the same company for a year or longer, it shows that you can work and stick with a job. With a BA in English I didn’t know what to do other than I didn’t want to go to graduate school for an English program and I didn’t want to be an insurance agent. In fall of 2000 after a summer of temp work I was hired for that holiday season at Barnes & Noble. That job helped my development as a person and as a worker. I became friends with several staff, learned a lot, and got continual work experience. I worked at the store full time for a few years and then part time until 2004. Working there I met two retired librarians, Mark, and Mary. Talking to them I became aware of the career. Soon I talked to one of my friend’s mother who was an academic librarian. At a wedding I had a conversation with a librarian. At my sister’s wedding my mom’s best friend from Vietnam came. This family friend was a librarian during Vietnam and I thought that interesting. All the librarians I came across seemed smart and happy to me. I meant disgruntled lawyers, doctors, and MBA types. I realized from liking books and interactions with customers at the bookstore, librarianship was something I could do. And librarianship was a career, not simply a job.
At first I tried out the distance program at Kent State part time while I worked full time at the bookstore. In summer 2003 I saw I could finish quicker if I moved to Kent State and worked toward the degree full time. I was a commuter student through college so that year turned out to be my carefree party days that students away from home go through. I also applied for a paraprofessional job at the Kent Free Library. I did not get that job, but they offered me a job as a page that I accepted. That was good to get library experience. During my last semester I also completed a 100 hours and some more at the library desk at Kent State, and I wrote a paper on that experience. I gained good experience from the page job and the university desk, but side-by-side I preferred the public library. So my focus on my job search was public libraries.
That summer, 2004, I charged a ticket to Orlando to the ALA conference. I talked to several systems and Queens was one of them. Even though one of my sisters lives in NYC I never really thought of moving there myself. But after talking to Queens Library I felt excited about it. About a month later I had the interview, and I started shortly after. Also my best friend from Kent State got a job there too, and we are still roommates 8 years later.
I felt that I found the career I wanted, a good fit for me. I felt fortunate to land a professional job, and nervous at the same time. Working for Queens Library and living in New York City has been great. Daily I get satisfaction with helping people, learning new things, and having more discussions about books than the average person. I’ve kept up my personal reading habits because my work surrounds me with other people who care about books. I kept up my writing ambitions because I’m in a profession that promotes intellectual freedoms and lifelong learning.
I had an excitement when my career started as a librarian, and I hope funding will increase when the economy gets better so future librarians can get the same satisfaction of finding a good fit for a career. Barring a lay off, closings, or other negative thing, and on the positive side winning the lottery or becoming a bestselling author I fully expect to have a career as a librarian. I might not read up on every issue of library journal, or attend conferences but librarianship is what I want to do and where I want to be.
Yesterday on May 17th, we had our Boardwalk Rally for Books in the Rockaways. The weather was perfect, and the rally went smoothly. It took a lot of work from all the libraries down there, and it was good to see people appreciate the libraries. Along the walk several people that we passed gave us a thumbs up and encouragement. That was my biggest contribution to the advocacy this year. But I do plan to go the Urban Librarians Unite 24 hour read in on June 9th to June 10th.
After tomorrow I’m going on vacation for a full two weeks, and I’m taking a break from my blog. I’m also going to try to do less computer stuff in general while I’m away. I suggest librarian workers, supporters, start writing up blogs about libraries. Someone might know a good twitter hashtag combo to get a lot more people to see it. If you like writing give this a try, the word of these proposed cuts need to be known by as many New Yorkers as possible
3 thoughts on “Why I became a librarian, one of my best decisions”
Nice. I had the same sentiments, the reason I became a librarian. too bad we don’t actually do much of anything significant. But those sentiments are real
What do you mean we don’t do anything significant?! Yes we do. Every time you are the only person all day who says hello to a homeless person, or treats a job seeker with dignity you are doing something very significant. That stuff is important, whether you feel it is or not.
I agree with librariancrafter that we do great things on a daily basis. And even quick exchanges might have meaning for patrons. I get a joy too when some smile as they say goodbye or voice their appreciation.
Some of these evaluations are subjective and in defense of Joe maybe it’s good to discuss negative perceptions and attitudes toward the library whether it’s from the public or staff. To advocate people need to be able to point out the positives and be able to counter the negative ideas put out there. Libraries are not perfect and will change, but to improve services the good and the bad need to be brought to the table, and the overall picture shold be evaluated over and over with scrutiny.
But that’s for us to do as a profession. The more direct problem is the city budget due on June 30th. The more discussions, and good debate will raise awareness I think.