Over the course of this semester I have been able to experience firsthand the kind of work I wish to make my career, as an intern in the Bryan College Library. From attending staff meetings to circulation desk duty to writing sections of the policy and procedure manual, I’ve learned a lot about my chosen career path, and have been given a realistic look at the inner workings of the library profession.
The library and information profession is one that contains a lot more than meets the eye. I’ve known this, from things I’ve read as I’ve researched what I want to be “when I grow up” but this internship has really provided that inside look at what lies behind all the books. The library profession has been really romanticized over the years, as we can see in the example of the librarians of movies, like Marian from the Music Man and the librarian in the Mummy , as well as countless stereotypes in literature and other media. To the uninformed individual, being a librarian is just a retired teachers job, or the occupation of shy, spectacled bookworms. While both of these can certainly be true, it is not all there is to it. When I talk to people about what I’m in school for, after their glazed over look in response to my very general sounding undergraduate studies, I often get a puzzled or surprised look when I tell them what I plan to study in graduate school. “You can go to school to be a librarian” they often ask. I tell them that to be a professional librarian, full-fledged and certified, you indeed must earn a masters degree in library and information sciences.
I think the key term in understanding the library profession is, in fact, “information.” Library connotes a building full of books. Information triggers a much broader spectrum of ideas, vastly dynamic and affecting so many areas of the human existence. To me, the library and information profession is about the preservation, organization and perpetuation of information. We are the keepers of knowledge, cataloging the past to give to the future. Just as in the medical profession we have a wide range of jobs from Nurse Tech to Family Practice to Research Doctor, the same is true of the library. There are many different faces of the library, from Public services to Directors to Library Technicians and Catalogers. Some you may see on a daily basis, while others you may never meet, however, they are all crucial to the field.
Personally, I have a inclination toward the Public Services aspect of librarianship, and I had some excellent opportunities to get some hands on experience here. I love to connect with people, and I was given this opportunity through planning, communicating and hosting a library event as well as interfacing with library patrons as I worked the circulation desk.
When I graduate from Bryan I plan on continuing my education at the University of Tennessee’s School of Information Sciences. UT’s program is accredited by the American Library association, which is a must for the student looking to make a career out of professional librarianship. I am mostly interested in UT because of its proximity to home, and the fact that as a state school, its reasonably affordable. I have also heard good things about its MLIS program from various co-workers in the past.
As a graduate student I plan on concentrating on public librarianship. The emphasis on community literacy and opportunities to build relationships with patrons in a meaningful way is a passion of mine as I’ve worked in the public sector of libraries before and found it extremely rewarding. I would love to specialize even further in children’s librarianship as I have a deep love for childrens literature, and I believe that influencing literacy and a lifelong love of learning at a young age is crucial, therefore one of the most important roles I could fulfill. I have specific librarians in my own life who were influential in my love of language and literature, who have definitely inspired me to pass that on to the next generation.
As I’ve read library journals and multitudes of blogs over this semester I have found common theme in the sector of public librarianship that sees these public libraries re-evaluating how they “do” libraries. I’ve been fascinated by the concept of the library as a public learning space. Especially thinking of youth and children, some libraries have reformatted space in to less of “quiet study”, though this still remains in other parts of the library, but more of a learning commons. I’ve read of creation labs, which provide patrons with access to state of the art media technology, encouraging young people to set up and become the next great creators of the future. Open mic nights and poetry slams that give young writers a platform to showcase their skills might just be the thing needed bring forth the Neil Gaimans and J.K. Rowlings of this generation. As a librarian in the public field I would love to inspire and shape these young people, not only through putting the great authors in their hands but giving them the opportunity and encouragement needed to become great authors, artists, filmmakers, engineers and architects of the future.
I have found various resources that have been useful to me this semester. American Libraries , the journal of the ALA, has been very helpful in informing me about various library trends and other current library issues such as the eBook debate and copyright issues it involves. Library Journal, was also great. I found the pages and pages of book and other media reviews extremely interesting as a lover of books, and I can only imagine how helpful it would be as a librarian in charge of acquisitions. I’ve also found several library blogs ranging from humorous to purely informational to opinion based that have all been useful.
Also, in this day of multi-social-media, I have found many great connections on various points from pinterest, to facebook, to twitter. I now follow the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) on twitter and get regular updates from their blog which I’ve found wonderfully informative. I’ve also enjoyed keeping up with my own blog, in an friendly manner which I hope would encourage the idea of the approachability of librarians.
With graduation looming next semester I am quickly being thrown towards making final decisions about graduate school, and all of that. I know that then, graduate school will fly by and I’ll be looking at what I want to do, what I can do next. Three years after graduate school, I would love to be working in practically any position in a public library of any size. I know that it will take time to work towards the kind of position I might want and in that time I will be best occupied by making myself useful and proving my skills and ablilties.
Seven years after graduate school I would love to be in a position of directing youth and/or children’s services at a good sized branch library. I could then pour in to the families that I serve by providing them with excellent material, learning my demographics and what would best profit my patrons. I would love to plan events from the regular weekly storytimes to summer reading to books clubs, and if possible facilitate these events.
Twelve years out of graduate school, to be honest, I really hope by that time to be married, with kids and teaching them at home. Even so, at home and involved in homeschool co-ops I can see myself still putting my training to use by teaching fellow homeschool moms how to make best use of library resources as they teach their children at home. I could still facilitate literacy through homeschool book clubs and research classes.
Though the above is really my “dream” job, a more business like answer would be to say that my ultimate dream job would be to work as a solo librarian in a small town library. The solo librarian wears many hats and does it all, from acquisitions to events to grant writing. It’d be hard, but oh so rewarding, because unlike the large branch libraries the opportunities to pour into the community are greater and deeper patron relationships can be formed. I say this because I’ve seen firsthand the impact a small town library can make on its community when I worked at the South Cheatham County Library in Kingston Springs, Tennessee.
Im excited about what the future holds for me through the remainder of my time at Bryan and on into graduate school. This internship has been great in cementing my desire to follow this library and information science path to completion.