The Library Routes project was set up in 2009; it’s a chance for library staff to share how we came to do the job we do. The wiki contains a fantastic mix of library folk, so it’s a treat to add my tuppenceworth.
Library work is probably in my blood. My mam was a librarian in her heyday and my dad was the proud owner of the first library card issued in his hometown library. So, although I wandered into the profession a bit aimlessly, maybe it was just meant to be.
My first library job will always have a special place in my heart. I found myself covering maternity leave in a sleepy tourist town for the dead-quiet six months of winter. I learned the ins and outs of library-life in the company of retired newspaper-readers, Marion-Keyes-loving mums and the after-school rush of crayons and chessboards and picture-books. After that I spent some time in a couple of busier branches before I returned to library school.
My second job was in a start-up college library. At the time, having just finished library school, I was scouring the papers for potential jobs. And this one stood out. It was a genuinely exciting time – filling book shelves, figuring out new systems, creating networks. Over the years our little library has grown, the student body has evolved and we have moved on to another phase of our history.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to take a career break and volunteer as a librarian in an educational resource centre in Nigeria. It involved setting up a model library and training library staff at local schools. It was an extraordinary insight into libraries in a digital-less world. Electricity was a bonus; written accession registers and home-made posters were the aim. It turns out resourcefulness and creativity are still pretty special tools.
And my fourth job was in fact my second job all over again. I returned to the same job after my time-out. As our little library continues to grow I like the route I am taking. We are learning to recognise, and respond to, the needs of contemporary students. I like this service-centred space that we are occupying now. And this exercise has made me curious about the future and the twists and turns ahead…