Saturday, January 9, 2010

How I Became a Librarian (addendum)

After re-reading the last post I wrote, it occurred to me this morning that while all of that is true, it wasn't until I actively engaged the library community via social media and my local associations (after having time to establish myself at MPOW), that I truly became a librarian. I think before that I was just sort of going through the motions. Unsure of myself and uncertain if the profession was truly my calling. Certainly, I had my own issues I was struggling with (coming to terms with my trans-ness and then legally and socially changing my gender was a full-time job that took years!), but it was only when I was able to make connections and share ideas and experiences with librarians beyond those I work with on a daily basis, via twitter and friendfeed and SUNYLA, that I was able to get a real sense of the scope and infinite possibilities of the profession. That, and realizing many others were struggling with some of the same professional issues I was, such as how to bring about organizational change, integrate emerging technologies and get the concepts and dire need for more/better information literacy integration into the minds of the organization's faculty and academic leaders.

Many of the diverse librarians I have met online, and hearing about the amazing work they do, have provided me lofty goals to try and meet for myself. While I haven't met most of them face to face yet (alas, damn limited travel budgets!), I consider many of them to be great role models and thank them all for helping me truly become a librarian!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Secret Origins of the Disobedient Librarian (How I became a librarian)

I've been meaning to write this post for a while now, ever since the "How I became a librarian" meme surfaced months ago. Here's my simplistic timeline that only vaguely answers that question.

Dana's Evolutionary Librarian Timeline:
  • Lives cloistered life of shy junior & senior high school student who does lots of reading and has aspirations of becoming a science fiction and historical fiction writer
  • 1987-1991: lazy college student, specializing in drinking games and killing brain cells and doing a minimum amount of work; drops creative writing (and very briefly, secondary ed) aspirations after 1st semester; remains undecided, unfocused and unmotivated until senior year
  • 1991: graduates from SUNY Geneseo with a history degree, focusing on European  history with aim of going on to graduate school
  • 1991-1994: as her only real "skill," she works in various restaurants (sometimes 2 at once) as line cook/kitchen manager (despite having a lifelong hatred of the restaurant business cultivated from having a chef as a father); 2 quickly aborted stabs at history grad classes sour her to grad school in general
  • 1993-1994: gets into volunteer work in Pittsburgh: Literacy Council and Goodwill (sorting donated books)
  • Spring of 1994: Goodwill book sorting program run by volunteer librarian; awareness of "librarian" as actual profession awakens her to possibility of finding career she actually likes, one of top library schools (ranked #2 in US at the time) happens to be in same city!
  • Summer of 1994: takes first library class: Cataloging! Takes PT job as library page (and maintains part-time kitchen mngr job, while taking classes PT)
  • 1996: switches to FT classes and takes internship at academic ref desk; solidifies her focus on reference services
  • 1997: graduates from the University of Pittsburgh with her MLS!!!
  • 1997-1998: burns quickly through several part-time, unsatisfactory entry-level library jobs
  • 1998: unwisely moves to Austin, TX for the sake of a relationship (which quickly dissolves); takes PT job at a UT library as "library assistant"
  • 1998-2002: moves to Baltimore and takes job as "information specialist" with start-up web company that provides info/research services to academia and research orgs
  • 2002: downsizing and general dissatisfaction with job, despite promotion, prompts her to move back to area of origin in upstate NY with no job and little money; takes crappy PT library job at a "college" located in a mall.
  • 2003-present: lands job at current location; grows up a bit (but not too much); takes on growing responsibilities; transitions at work; learns to love profession and job; innovates and pushes for change and gets several promotions over the years, despite a lack of diplomacy and social graces; finally gains confidence in herself as person and professional