Friday, August 22, 2008

The "How I Became a Librarian" Meme

I didn't get tagged for it, but there's a "how'd'ja becoem a librarian?" meme running around the blogosphere. Figured I'd toss my hat in the ring. If you haven't already done this one, consider yourself tagged and tell us your story.

I wasn't going to be a librarian, despite my early and obvious love of books. I worked at the Brentwood Public Library on Long Island when I was in high school. In college, I worked at the Centre College Grace Doherty Library for my first two years, adn spent my second two years as a research assistant to my favorite professor of all time, Nayef Samhat. I wanted to be a diplomat...until I realized (after receiving death threats for an opinion article I wrote in the college paper) that I likely wasn't diplomatic enough to avert war. Scratch that career.

Professor Samhat encouraged me to stay in academia, and helped me get into Emory's PhD program in Political Science, where I spent two years completely submerged in STATA regressions and JSTOR. Health issues and some personal questioning as to how useful writing a dissertation was (in the wake of 9/11) made me feel adrift, and I moved to Lexington to stay with friends and get healthy.

I worked at CompUSA which was A-W-F-U-L, and lamented to my pals "What should I BE when I grow up?" Everyone who helped me move my personal library of around 3,000 volumes immediately said, "Um, Librarian." (My friends are wise this way, and often know me better than I know myself.) I became the Circulation Night Supervisor at the University of Kentucky's Young Library, started my MLS, and a year and a half later had my MLS in hand, my health back, and had moved to 2nd shift reference & instruction as a parapro.

Feeling antsy with MLS in hand and no likely professional position to open up at UK, I moved home to NY and worked in Graduate Admissions at StonyBrook University, where I helped them move to digital dissertations. Hating NY, I job-hunted and came to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for my first professional position as a reference & instruction librarian in August of 2007. I'm still here, and loving it.

My considerations were that I knew I didn't want to be in public libraries. I love academia - you can't beat the atmosphere, the free classes that are usually a benefit fit my nerdly needs to a 't,' and I feel I contribute to the student experience in a great way without having written a dissertation on something I wasn't in love with. For me, this is the best of all worlds. I believe in what I do. I think I'm a good teacher and make the students more comfortable. And I love that no two days are the same.

1 comment:

Bobbi Newman said...

I just love reading these stories. It's so weird how so many of us just sort of fell into it.