I received an email today from Ned Potter who is working with a couple of other Information Professionals to try and get a project off the ground called the Library Routes Project. It is an attempt to gather together a whole bunch of Information Professionals’ experiences, in terms of both their library root (how and why they got into the profession in the first place) and their library route (what jobs they’ve done that have led them to their current role).
So here’s my contribution…
My Roots and my Route
I have always been a fan and user of libraries, and my Year 10 work experience was in the school library (when I quit the nursing home I’d been sent to for two days). Despite that I didn’t consider a career working in libraries, and went to the University of Brighton to do my Geography Ddegree. At that point I had no idea you could do a degree in Librarianship!
When I graduated I decided to try and get a library assistant job, as libraries are nice and I liked the atmosphere. I also had no other clear ideas of what to do with my Geography degree! I had a few interviews, one at the University of Sussex Library, and one at the Institute for Development Studies for library assistant jobs but didn’t get one. My break came when a friend informed me that help was needed in the School of Languages (at Brighton Uni) Self Access Centre, so I worked there for a few months on a temporary part-time contract. This was in Autumn 2003, and in December or January I applied for a Resource Assistant Job at the University of Brighton Library (Falmer Campus). I was not offered the full time permanent post that I’d gone for, instead I was offered a part-time temporary post. As my job at the access Centre would have been coming to an end anyway soon I accepted gladly. This was when I realised I was glad my experience in year 10 came in handy, and also my student job as a library shelver whilst at uni! My work as the Assistant Technician in the Access Centre was also very valuable I think in securing that job offer.
So I began the job in February 2004. I remember on my first day as I had a tour of the library, I was amazed at the size of the librarians’ offices!! They were huge! This appealed to me(!) so I investigated exactly what it was they do and started researching into what being a librarian involved. When I chatted to my manager about it he encouraged me to look into the course accredited by CILIP and offered by the University of Brighton, the MA in Information Studies. I enjoyed my work as an RA and after three months I transferred to the Aldrich Library into a full time permanent job and in September of that year I began the MA part-time, studying one day a week. I was fortunate that I did not have to fund the course as it was provided by the university where I worked. So from 2004 – 2007 I studied part time and completed my dissertation to qualify as an Information Professional. I also was seconded for a year to the Senior Rsource Assistant post to cover maternity leave, which was great experience at a slightly more senior level. After the taught element of the course I was officially qualified and I applied for an Assistant Information Adviser job at Aldrich Library, but unfortunately I didn’t get it (I came second). The person in post relocated and left the job 5 months later, so I applied again (I came second, again). Was feeling a bit fed up of internal interviews by this point, but when the vacancy came up again due to someone transferring within the department, I was *delighted* to be offered the post as ‘d only very recently been interviewed and I was in second position!! So this was my big break, I’ve been in this position as Assistant Information Adviser for two years exactly (I started 27th September 2007) and I love it. I look after the following subject areas: Media Studies, Information Studies/Management, Computing, and Mathematics. I’m not sure what’s next in terms of my career, at the moment I’m just concentrating on doing my best in my current position.