Wednesday, 12 October 2011

My route to Librarianship

Thing 20 - The library routes project

My path to librarianship began many moons ago while i was still in secondary school. In fifth year I was a voluntary 'librarian' at lucnh times in the school library. The summer I finished school I undertook a training course which included weeks of work experience. Mine was organised for the local public library.
After I finished my undergraduate degree I wasn't sure what I wanted to so I applied for the library assistant panel for our local authority and was on that for several years, during which time I worked in several public libraries and in the mobile library service.

As most of my work was contract I had different roles and employers over these few years. One of the 'breaks' from this public library service included several months spent as a Library Graduate Trainee in one of the countries largest universities. this gave me lots of back room experience to balance out my public desk experience.

After  a while I wanted something more permanent, so I made it my new year's resolution to do so. The authority that I had been working for had not recruited anyone into the library service for several years and it didn't look like it was going to do so any time soon. Within a few months I had secured a library assistant position in a 3rd level institution, and then a couple of months later I moved back to public libraries and the terms and conditions were better there. (This was with a different authority)

A few years later and I moved authority again, having secured a promotion to senior library assistant. Two years later, after some encouragement, I applied for a scholarship to attend library school from my employer. I was successful. At this stage I had over 7 years experience in libraries so I actually knoew a good half dozen people on the course before I started. This really helped me get back into studying and kept me going throughout what was a very tough year.

After I finished my librarianship qualification I sat two job interviews and got the higher graded one. I have been in this role since, with the exception of times where I have acted up a grade. I have to say that all my pervious experience and being willing to move around and undertake long commutes has paid off.

The LIS world has changed since I qualified, so to make sure that my skills and qualifications stay relevant I am currently undertaking an M Sc in Library and Information Studies, and am at the writing up stage of my research.

As you can see I took an long and windy road to librarianship, but it was clear from the early stages of my working life which direction I was headed in.

I think that in today's climate it will be very hard for someone without significant experience in libraries to secure their first professional position after qualification. Because of the 'recession' there is no recruitment into government funded positions, which accounts for most of the positions in this country. So anyone who is serious about persuing a career in librarianship should be prepared to travel to get experience.

Over the years I have undertaken many things in the name of libraries and librarianship that I never thought would be an option for me. From organising user education sessions, to overseeing the renovation and refit of the library, from compilig exhibitions,  to cataloguing rare french books, the list is endless and varied. So evethough my role is that of systems librarian, it is so much more than that too. Sure I do the usual systems administartion work, and look after the webopac and web site, but my role has expanded and changed over the years. I have never been bored, and I think that's agreat thing to be able to say about your profession!!!


Hugh said...

great blog Niamh, very interesting

Niamh said...

Thanks Hugh, that's the short version of course