Sunday, October 4, 2009

Library Routes

The Library Routes Project is looking at how librarians got into their careers and a wikki has been created to allow librarians to document their own experiences and share them with other professionals, or with those interested in following a career in librarianship.

Well, here is my story. . .

Brief history of my education and early employment:

  • 1996 Did A-levels and went to Nottingham Uni to do Philosophy, but left after 1 semester because I realised I just didnt want to be at uni. at that time
  • Spent some time volunteering in Birmingham with CSV (part time working with adults with learning disabilities and part time as a live-in carer for a lady with cerebral palsy)
  • Also got involved with the Bridgnorth African Project - partly fund raising and partly preparing for spending a summer fact finding in Tanzania (which I did in 2000)
  • 2000 went back to Uni in Hull and started a degree in Psychology (went to Tanzania during the first summer vacation)
  • Graduated in 2003 and got my first graduate job in head injury rehab with REACH
  • Needed full time work to pay the bills so took a job as an Attendance Monitor at Hull College - looking out for attendance patterns in students and working to keep students in college and help them with a range of problems which were preventing them from acheiving
  • 2004 Left Hull and moved back to Nottingham, took the first job I was offered working in the call centre at NHS Direct this was my first information job, but it was VERY stressful, with very anti-social shift work and often dealing with calls from very distressed people (everything from suicide attempts to domestic violence via the usual tooth ache and medication queries)
So how did that lot lead into libraries? 

After working at NHS Direct for about 9 months I decided I just didnt want the stress anymore and I started applying for all kinds of jobs, just to get out of the one I was in. I had no particular plans to work in libraries, but I had really enjoyed the work at Hull College and started looking at jobs in education in general. After being turned down after a couple of interviews I was offered a job at New College Nottingham's 6th Form library.

I loved that job! 

I have to admit, I used to be one of those people who (shudder) thought librarians stamped books all day. I was so surprised at how much was involved and how much training was on offer, and I took all the courses I could, including everything from web design to customer service, and eventually joined CILIP and completed my NVQ2 in Library and Information Services.

I was there for a couple of years before I decided I was ready to move out of my comfort zone and start looking for other posts. I started working at Wolverhampton University's Harrison Learning Centre in 2005 as an Academic Information Assistant delivering a roving enquiry service. (This is where I met Jo Alcock and decided I wanted a job like the one she had at the time). The original job I took at Wolves was part time, and so allowed me to apply for other part time jobs at Wolves, and before I knew what had happened I was also working with the Electronic Resources team looking after subscription set-ups, taking enquiries and collating usage statistics AND working on a reclassification project - giving me 3 seperate jobs at Wolverhampton for a while.

At the end of that academic year (all the jobs were fixed term contracts) I started looking around and found my first "proper" job at Warwick Uni Library. Full time permanent contract in the Academic Support team, working with Science and Medicine.

In the three years I had that post I managed to pass my CILIP chartership (which is what got me into blogging) and gain a Post Graduate Award in E-learning for Academic and Professional Practice. I also joined the committee of CILIP West Midlands, on which I am now very active.

Warwick have restructured this summer and I started my new post as Enquiries Support Officer last week. This new post presents many great new opportunities, it will be the first time I have managed staff and will also involve me in the set up and running of brand new services. I'm really looking forward to where it might take me next. . .

If you would like to share your story, or read the stories of others, go to the Library Routes Project Wikki and have your say.


David Viner said...

Nice story! I didn't realise that you didn't come straight into libraries. It seems we both share a background in the care profession.

Katharine said...

To be honest I NEVER dreamed I'd be a librarian until I took that job at New College Nottingham, and even then I had my doubts for the first few months. I love it now though, and can't think of anything I'd rather do.