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[personal profile] alexiscartwheel
At the request of [personal profile] ceitfianna: "Talk to me about what being a librarian means for you and your journey to become one."

(If you'd like to suggest a topic to make me write about, comment on this post. Right now it's all Fi.)

I got my first job at my local public library when I turned 16. (I actually asked the circulation manager about jobs about half a year before that, but 16 is their minimum age.) I worked there as a shelver for the rest of high school and came back for most of my summer breaks during college, but for most of that time I didn't actually know what kind of career I wanted after graduation. At the time, what I really knew was that I didn't want to teach high school, which is what many of my fellow English majors were preparing to do. I think I only took one creative writing class, not because it didn't interest me, but because by college I was pretty convinced I had no realistic chance of success there. At some point it finally occurred to me that I could just keep working at the library, and if I got a Masters, I could do that professionally. I really don't know why it took so long to put that together.

It wasn't all smooth sailing from there, though. I applied to, I think, five different graduate programs. I ended up picking McGill because the university is well-respected, I liked the idea of living in Montreal, and the tuition was super cheap compared to American universities. (I'm a Canadian citizen, so I didn't have to pay international fees.) After a few months, I was feeling pretty disenchanted with the whole thing, so I withdrew, spent a month in Columbus, then moved to Kansas City where a worked in, you guessed it, a library, this time at a community college. I went back to grad school at Maryland in the fall, where I discovered that LIS programs just suck universally, but you have to jump through the hoops in order to get the professional qualification.

Between bogus LIS programs and the terrible job market, I've developed quite a bit of library related cynicism, but that's mostly concerning structural problems, not library-work itself. Because that? I still really enjoy. Almost all my jobs in the past decade plus have been in libraries, almost exclusively in public institutions, and at this point I really balk at the idea of working in the corporate world, presuming they'd even have me. I like providing a service that enriches people's lives, whether that translates as suggesting good books to read or teaching technology

Obviously right now, I'm open to a lot of things, but I would love to get back into a public library position. My ideal would be either working with teens or working with local history materials. (I took a lot of archives classes and worked in archives digitization for three years before I took the high school job.) Columbus is a smaller city, so there aren't as many openings, but there also aren't two competing grad programs in the city, so hopefully the market won't be as oversaturated as it was in D.C. Fingers crossed, you know.
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