Better late than never: my library roots/routes

After all this talk about the New Professionals Conference 2010 I’m left thinking – “huh they didn’t have this when I was a lass” (well, 25) and “JEALOUS!!!”

I would like to point that we didn’t have one of these conferences because it would never have occurred to us to organise it ourselves – unlike it did with the new professionals of today. I think they really are more highly motivated than we were (or should I say “than I was?”) and I think more in touch with other librarians from all different levels, locations and sectors. I think this is in large part due to the changing nature of libraries but also to the changing nature of networking and the importance people are placing on blogs, twitter etc. etc. I think this is producing a confident and more fully rounded type of librarian. (You know what I mean – We’re embracing our inner geek in the best way possible, not only do we know a lot about technology, we can give amusing and entertaining presentations about it too. Another Jeskins sweeping generalisation – surely not. ;)

"New Kids on the Block"New Kids on the Block 2008 by ladybugbkt from flickr.com

I like to think that I’m learning a lot from the new kids on the block (not being patronising here honest – just wanted a cheesy 80s reference that alluded to my age, *cough* I mean, experience in libraries) and hope that maybe I have something to share too.  Anyway with all of this in mind I realised that I had always meant to add to the Library Routes Project and had never got round to it… So whilst I’m in this nostalgic and sharing frame of mind and now actually have a blog of my own, I feel I best get to it before I miss the boat completely.

So how did I stumble into libraries?

Well I literally did stumble for a start. I left the University of Bradford in 1997, with no idea what to do. I’d just spent 4 years completing a degree in French and Spanish, including spending 6 months working in Paris and 6 months “studying” in Barcelona. (I know, tough job but someone had to do it). No matter what anyone else will tell you about Bradford – I loved my time there. I loved my degree and really enjoyed my lectures. Unfortunately it was completely let down by the careers advisor. Just before I left Bradford, he walked into a lecture theatre filled with over 100 undergrads fluent in French, Spanish, German, and Russian and told them if they wanted to use their languages every day, they had to be a teacher (Dad was a Maths teacher, no thanks) interpreter (not bilingual from birth or that sh*t hot to be honest) or a translator (money at the time was in scientific, technical translation – dull, dull, DULL!). He then walked out again.

So I’d finished university and I wasn’t an actual thing. I wasn’t an engineer, or a teacher or anything really and I was suddenly flummoxed. My entire life had been mapped out since I was about 13. I’d forgotten about creating a Plan B.

So I wallowed about a little in the transient world of temping. I discovered quite a lot about myself. For example – things I’m not great at: selling European breakdown insurance. Rubbish at it, in fact. Data entry. I have to be allowed to shout “I’m bored” at the top of my voice, whilst turning in circles on my chair or I can’t cope. I’m told most businesses don’t usually allow this – but I was sharing an office with my Aunty Mag at a chemical company in Milton Keynes and was allowed a little leeway. After a few months of this though, Dad eventually said to me, “So, if you could be anything in the world and money wasn’t an object – what would you fancy doing?”

I said, “I’d quite like to be a librarian really – it looks like fun”. Now at the time I didn’t really know what I was talking about but luckily I was only temping and Dad was a teacher at a 6th form college where I was able to volunteer in the library one day a week…and that really was the start of that. :)

NB. When I started writing this post, I didn’t realise I’d go on quite so much. I’ve decided to split what is a pretty long post into 3. Once the other posts are live I’ll make the following titles into links.

    1. Library roots
    2. Early Career
    3. Far Flung Libraries and Back Again.
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      3 thoughts on “Better late than never: my library roots/routes

      1. I know what you mean about the jealous-they-didn’t-have-this-when-I-were-a-lass feeling about the NPC!

        I think it’s a by-product of the fact that in the last few years, the ability to get to know (and ask favours of /request help like doing a talk) people outside your own specific area has been made so much easier by the ability to interact via social media. I feel that being able to blog in my own “voice”, and talk to people on Twitter informally has made such a difference to my network.

        A few years ago, I could tell you I had about 100 library contacts…but they were all in my professional group, in my sector, law. To get things done, I’d need to be quite formal about things, make approaches to specific people, which worked, but slowly.
        Now, via blogging and tweeting, I know hundreds of people, all over the place…and if they need help, I’ll volunteer to jump in, and vice versa! Getting things organised now just seems so much simpler than it used to be (ignoring the admin-y stuff, which is always going to be a pain in the bum).

      2. Pingback: Library Routes 3: Far Flung Libraries and Back Again. | Lisa's Training Blog

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