Why I’m Going to Library School.
Or I Finally Realized the Obvious.
This fall I will be going back to school to get my Masters in Information Sciences. (That’s just a fancy way to say library school.) It’s been fourteen months since I graduated college with a BS in history and an English minor. (Side note: How important are minors? I feel like they don’t matter much in the grand scheme of things but I always say my degree is in history and English. I don’t know why. I think history is cool enough on it’s own. I think history is way better than English. Hence the order and level of attention they received from me.)
I had no clue what I wanted to go to grad school for and so after college, I ended up moving back in with my parents and somehow as a millennial in the 21st century, with a liberal arts degree from a tiny school and no real work experience I managed to find part time work at a public library. And I guess that’s where it all went down. That’s where I decided, basically a year to the day of my college graduation, that I wanted to be a librarian.
But really, it started way before that.
Let’s start in the present and work our way back:
I currently work part time in the reference department at a super amazing public library. And even though the commute up to this fancy-schmancy city is far away from my little town, I love it. I love the quiet in the mornings when I get in before we open. I love learning to know the volunteers. I love seeing kids excited about books and misfit teenagers finding community in programming. I love making a cute little old lady’s day cause I found her book for her. I love being creative with displays and projects. I love never running out of things to read. I love feeling like I work in a magical place that truly makes a difference in the community through all the incredible services we offer.
I also currently volunteer with the Harry Potter Alliance, a super amazing international non-profit that uses the power of storytelling to turn fans into heroes. I’ve worked with the HPA in a variety of ways, from currently volunteering at an international scale as an editor, to starting a university chapter while in college; and I’ve learned a lot from the community and the work we’ve done. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I learned that I like being part of a team. I learned that I don’t totally crumble when in a position of leadership. I’ve learned that I work well, perhaps even better, with diverse crowds. I’ve learned that things like books, community service, and literacy mean a lot more to me than I even thought possible.
My first library job was in college. I was a student worker in my school’s little library for two years. It wasn’t always fun, but I remember being so grateful when I got the library as my work study assignment. And the people, namely the two on staff librarians that loved all the same things I loved — history, ballet, Germany — were constantly encouraging me to pursue a career in library sciences. I guess they saw it all way before I did.
But even further back, more than just what I’m doing now and what I’ve recently done, there is also my childhood.
A bizillion years ago when everyone had a blog and everyone was reading blogs, I had a blog and was reading blogs. Honestly I don’t know if it was the normal thing for a high school girl, but it was normal for me and my small group of blogger friends. One blog that I read was written by a teen services librarian at a public library. And I just remember thinking, wow, she has the coolest job. I have no idea why I didn’t realize right then that I could have that kind of job too.
Further back, I think the story that my homeschooling mom tells goes like this: a week after I started preschool, I wanted to know why I couldn’t read yet. When I finally did start learning to read, it was a struggle. I failed phonics. I still don’t understand it. Don’t ask me what a long or short E is. I don’t even know if there are long and short Es. Other than making me not the greatest speller though, this defeat has not deterred me in the long run. But I didn’t really always like reading. I read mostly nonfiction as a little kid. Cause children’s nonfiction was always short and easy and quick to read with lots of pictures. And I liked history. I wanted to know things, nonfiction books contained a lot of things. It would be awhile before I realized that fiction books contained a lot of things to know as well. By the time I was twelve I started devouring books thanks to one great story, Artemis Fowl. And that was it for me. My main identity had been created, I was a bibliophile.
Even though reading wasn’t my favorite activity during my early childhood years, there was one thing about it that I always loved. Going to the library. Like I mentioned above I was homeschooled, my mom had previously worked in libraries (it even runs in the family, yeesh) and was determined that my sister and I were going to visit libraries often and learn that they were some of the best places on earth. She wasn’t wrong. We moved a lot when I was little, and some libraries were better than others. But the good ones, we were there all the time. We learned the Dewey Decimal system and how to look up books by author. One of the best libraries we ever had was Gwinnett County Public Library in Atlanta. I remember that one quite well. My sister and I also had our girl scout meetings there. I hated girl scouts. I wasn’t social and things like cooking and sewing and camping didn’t interest me at all. But meetings meant that we got to go to the library, and I loved it there. I felt comfortable there, not always in the meetings, but before and after, I felt comfortable, and for an anxiety-ridden fourth grader, that’s a big deal.
Lastly, I’ll never forget another public library experience, or at least I’ll never forget parts of it. I was very little, there was a writer/singer/illustrator or something at our little library in Louisiana. She sang songs and read stories and had so many of her little books to give away. I think this was the first time I ever heard “There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly,” and my little life was forever changed. I also won something that day. Some book, I think maybe that one, but I don’t really remember. All I know is, the previously mentioned anxious me walked up there in front of the crowd and got her prize, (okay, I think maybe my daddy held my hand, but still) cause she felt safe and happy, with her family, and the books, and the silly songs, in the library.