Monday, December 21, 2009

How I found librarianship

This post is part of the Library Routes Project.

I was never one much for reading books and stuff when I was a kid. My mom and sister were into science fiction. I tried reading some of their sci-fi books (Andre Norton, Lord of the Rings, etc.), but I found the stories to be contrived. When I had to do book reports for school, I found historical and sports-based books more to my liking.

In college, I had to get a job for my work-study so I figured the main library would be a good place to work. In my freshman year, I worked at the circulation desk for $3.50/hour processing and checking out books and reserve materials. I worked there about 8-10 hours/week. (In the next year, I got a raise to $3.55/hour!) I ended up working at the main library for four years during my undergraduate education. We also had a science library with a science librarian, but I never asked her how she came to work in the science library. I wish I would have.

For some strange reason, I remember seeing a flyer (late 1980's) about a library-based workshop at Mankato State University. At the time -- I thought to myself -- "Where the heck is Mankato State University?" and "Huh, I guess people who work as professionals in libraries go to seminars like this."

Anyway, I forgot all about that. I finished my undergraduate degree in 1989 with a BS in Physics. I got a job in optical manufacturing, moved out to the east coast to live with my girlfriend/now-wife, found a job in sales and then got married. I was not all that happy in my clerkish sales position. I searched my soul for a professional position, and I remembered that I liked working in libraries. I also liked programming and computers, and I thought maybe I could use my interests in a library position. In 1992/93, the Internet was starting to get some press, and I thought it would be a good time to jump onto the Internet bandwagon.

In 1993, I started course work at the University of Maryland, College Park. At first, I was thinking I would be a systems librarian. However, I remember reading an article about special librarianship in the sciences, and that just seemed perfect for me. (If only I could remember the article title or source.) I seem to remember that Liz Bryson from CFHT and Ellen Bouton from NRAO were quoted. Thus, I changed my focus from systems to public services pretty quickly. I graduated in 1995 and the rest is history.

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