I’ve decided to document my ‘library roots’ for the library routes project. There are two kinds of roots you can document, your roots or your routes. The latter involves the ‘route’ that your career has taken but I thought that since I’m only in my first professional post my route is quite short at the moment! My ‘roots’, on the other hand, is the way in which I came to be a librarian. I always find it so interesting talking to fellow librarians about how they came to be a librarian. We’re quite a varied bunch!
I feel very young compared to some librarians, as I came to it straight from my undergraduate degree. However, it still feels like a long journey that I have taken to get here. When I was studying English Literature at Liverpool University, I never really thought about what I’d do when I graduated into the big wide world. It seemed so far off! Then, suddenly, I was in my final semester of final year and wondering what to do with my life.
In the 2nd year of my Undergraduate degree, I began to volunteer for the Get Into Reading project. The Get Into Reading groups are not traditional reading groups, but instead reach out to those most in need of the nourishing aspects of literature. The Reader Organisation set up reading groups in NHS care homes, dementia care homes, prisons, community centres, women’s refuges and asylum seeker’s hostels. They don’t ask readers to read a book in advance, but instead we shared the reading experience. Poems, short stories and novels are read aloud and discussed. I was placed in a reading group in a mental health day centre and I learnt so much about literature and the way in which it can affect people if you give them a chance.
It solidified the fact that I wanted to work in a job that promoted literature within the community. After debating teaching English for a while and suffering through a torturous 3 week school placement, I decided that teaching was NOT for me. I had toyed with the idea of a Librarianship course, but one of my mother’s friends said ‘Oh no, you’re too outgoing to be a librarian!’. Yet again, the librarian stereotype crops up…
I spent a summer not quite knowing what I wanted to do. I applied for lots of jobs, all that were based in libraries, I had a few interviews but I sadly didn’t get any of them. So, I decided to enrol on the librarianship course at Liverpool John Moores. I hadn’t really read up much about librarianship to be honest..but I had a gut instinct that it would be for me and wouldn’t just be telling people to be quiet all day.
I loved my course, I met lots of great people on it, all from very different backgrounds. I also learnt more about the different sectors of librarianship and that I had so many different prospects ahead of me. However, I still had my heart set on working in public libraries.
In January 2010, I did a 3 week placement at Halton Libraries and LOVED it. It made me so happy: I was honestly terrified that I would start my placement and hate it and regret the past 3 months and wasted tuition fees. I felt like I had found my calling. I attended a Time To Read meeting in Manchester and worked closely with the Reader Development librarian on different projects. I also got involved with other projects like the local history community steering group and Headspace, the new scheme for teenagers. Of course, I also did my fair share of desk work, answering queries and spending time on the floor.
After my placement, I returned to Uni and actually missed working. It made me want to work in a library even more! I was lucky enough to be offered some casual library assistant work following up from my placement, which then turned into Trainee Librarian hours. By the end of my final semester, I was working on every single one of my days off at Halton Lea library but I was enjoying it so much. Some of my grades, admittedly, suffered, but the experience was worth more to me than getting a grade in the 60s.
And it was. In June, 2 Librarian jobs were advertised in Halton Libraries so I applied for them both. I was invited to interview and was then offered the temporary Librarian position and the rest is history. I really want to make the most of my time here and get my career off to the best start possible.