People often ask me what made me choose librarianship as my career path to follow, and I'll usually tell them "I just love being around books," mostly because I can't think of any deeper reason on the spot. But after they've walked away, and I'm left with the question still hovering around in my mind, I can begin to pull together the real reasons why I want to be a librarian "when I grow up."
Yes, I love reading, and even just being around books. I can't remember a time when I couldn't read. At six, I got my first library card, signing the back in ballpoint chicken scratch. My first pin number was 1111 (I was the first child and ones were easy to remember. My sister had twos.) I remember the old DOS-based computer catalog that sat in the children's section. We became well acquainted even then. At the age of eight or nine I figured out how to use the library website to place holds from the comfort of my home. My dad only let me check out three of the twenty books that showed up at the library for me later that week. At ten, I was allowed to walk the half-block the library by myself, for a half-hour at a time. My mom has a picture of me walking across the street in the rain with our giant red and white golf umbrella. She was afraid that I was going to be abducted and that it'd be the last picture she'd ever have of me. A love of the contents cultivated a love of the place. I loved books, so therefore, I loved libraries.
It wasn't till I was in late middle school to early high school that I started to think that I might want to BE a librarian however. There were two spectacular librarians in my life at this point that I believe started shaping this desire in me. We lived in Tallahassee at the time, and would frequent the main branch library as a family on Friday evenings. We'd pick my dad up from work, grab some mexican food at On-the-Border, then head to the library to stock up for the next two to three weeks. Working the Youth and Children's services at the Leroy Collins Leon County Public Library was a wonderful young librarian by the name of Sarah. Maybe it was the fact that she had the same name as me; maybe it was her amazing red hair, but I wanted to be just like her. She had the best job ever.
When we weren't visiting the downtown library, my mom would take us to a smaller, closer branch for home-school book club in the afternoons. That's where I met Karen White, also young, lovely and working in the best job ever. She facilitated our club meetings, leading conversation of 10-15 home-schoolers in her little office where we'd sit on the floor, on the desk, on boxes, wherever we'd fit, discussing Shane, Eragon, The Outsiders and other books of our (and our mothers) choice. I still remember the first time I saw her diploma on the wall in the office. She held her Masters in Library Science from Florida State University, and that was the first time I realized that you could go to school to be a librarian. So in my junior year of high-school when my dad asked what I might want to go to college for, we started researching library schools.
It wasn't till half-way through my freshman year of college that I actually got my first shot at working in a library. I think that it probably solidified my desire to make it through 4-6 years of school. I found that I received intense satisfaction from being able to point people in the direction of the books they wanted, and from keeping my little kingdom of stacks well-ordered. But what I found I loved the best was helping kids find that perfect book, the one that made their eyes light up and got them excited to read. That on the deepest level is my reason for becoming a librarian. I want to share my passion for books with others, to grow young readers, and to cultivate the next generation of the Knowledge Keepers that are Librarians.