Thing 20 asks us to contemplate why we entered the profession, how that compares to the route taken by other librarians, and blog about it for the Library Routes project. I blogged about my route into librarianship for Thing 10, but with a focus on undertaking my MSc in Information and Library Management and my view on the qualification. So here's my history with a focus on why I chose librarianship:
Growing up my entire focus was on getting through school and going to university. I didn't doubt my decision to study English Literature as it was by far the subject I most enjoyed, and I departed home for Cardiff University an enthusiastic and optimistic teenager. Three years later I was completely lost and in despair as to what I wanted to do, and I moved home and got a temp job. My decision to be a stage manager was made when leafing through a theatre programme one day, and seeing the words 'stage manager' under the list of people involved in the production. I'm not sure it's the best way of choosing what you want to do with your life, not least because I had to do a large amount of volunteer work, and take out a hefty loan just to qualify to get on the training course.
My decision to leave theatre and become a librarian was much easier, because (as so many other librarians have noted!) it felt like a light-bulb moment - a moment of clarity when I couldn't for the life of me understand how I hadn't thought of it before. Of course I wanted to be a librarian - it just fit! I could work with people, books, computers and organise and manage to my hearts content. I did a lot of research into the profession before I applied for graduate traineeships - by emailing other graduate trainees to find out about their experiences, reading the Oxford University Graduate Traineeship pages (the ones I read don't exist now, but their new pages are just as good) and looking into Masters programmes so I knew how the whole process would lead me into being a professional librarian.
Yes I know, I can be known to overdo it on the whole research and preparedness thing - but then again that might be one of the elements that makes me a librarian!
The route into being a librarian hasn't been all smooth sailing. Part of my decision to train as a librarian came from a strong desire to work in public libraries - they were a huge part of my childhood, and I felt like I wanted to contribute to that experience for others, works with the community and provide a useful and fulfilling service. In order to pursue this goal I worked part time as a library assistant while studying for my MSc, but earning very little money and having to drive a lot in order to work there - and all for a fixed term contract, which ended around the same time the coalition government came into power and careers in public libraries suddenly disappeared as the conservatives immediately lined them up for the chop.
So I had to re-evaluate my goal, and as jobs were scare I had to work as an administrative assistant for a while because I couldn't find a library job, but perseverance and hope meant that when a job finally came up I was ready to go for it, and I got it! I haven't looked back since.
I suspect my story correlates closely with the general theme experienced by the other librarians contributing to the library routes project, and outlined by Emma in her post: I didn't consider librarianship as a career until after I trained and started work in something else entirely, when I finally came to the idea of being a librarian it was because of a love of books, not because I had any understanding of the profession, and I'm so glad I finally realised that being a librarian is what suits me best!