Reflecting on how I got where I am

I’m giving a talk this afternoon at the CILIP Graduate Open Day on my career and just generally enthuse about the profession as a whole to encourage people to join it. But, as a result of this it’s made me think about my experiences and how I got to where I am.

At the end of my first degree I had never searched an online database or read an online journal article. I had little information literacy skills and was not aware of the wealth of electronic resources that I could have used, or which were available more generally. I used the college library for books, but didn’t use anything more than that and I got a good degree. OK, as I studied physics most of the cutting edge research would probably have been unintelligible to me, even at the end of the degree, but that’s not excuse for not introducing me to what was available and some of the more lower level stuff.

I was hanging around the summer after I graduated thinking about what I wanted to do when Dad suggested I become a librarian as a joke because I like books. Neither of us was really aware of what the role really entailed, but I took him up on it, investigated what it entailed and managed to get a place on the MSc ILM at UCE starting that autumn. So I started the course with no experience of working in any sort of library or information service and with little idea of what a librarian actually does.

I did fairly well at the course – enjoyed most of it – and through contacts at the University got some library experience. I then got a part-time job over the summer in a different library whilst doing my dissertation and started looking for something more permanent (and full-time) for when that finished. I was lucky that I was fairly flexible in what I was willing to do and where I was willing to work, so I was able to move for a job when the opportunity arose.

I then got a temping position in a company library, covering for a maternity leave, mainly because I had a science background! This was for 6 months, at the end of which I had essentially 9 months experience working in three different libraries (in three different sectors), which is far less than is asked for in most qualified library jobs. However, I applied for them anyway and got the job I now have.

I’m very happy at MPOW and enjoy what I do, which to me seems extraordinary considering how little I knew about what being a librarian was when I started!

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