I am often asked why I became a librarian. A provocative question, to be sure, but one that has no one single answer. I have wanted to become a teacher since I was three years old and would line my dolls up around my bed and play school with them—I was an excellent teacher of dolls! That three-year-old little girl knew what she was talking about. I grew up, graduated from college, and taught English and English-as-a-second language for ten years. But, something was always missing!
I had always loved working with people and teaching, but I realized that I didn’t want to teach fulltime anymore. I also have always loved libraries and spent many happy hours there as a child, teen, and adult. My local librarian, Mrs. Dorothy Channell, was like a second mother to me. I would spend hours there helping her check in and check out books, work on displays, etc. To put it simply, I LOVED libraries and librarians and everything about the library world. When Mrs. Channell passed away at the end of my senior year in high school, I was devastated. I still loved libraries, but I always fought the urge to be a librarian.
However, when I reached the point in my teaching career where I realized I didn’t want to do it full-time, this little voice kept telling me to “go to library school.” I finally listened to that voice and in 1998, I returned to school to earn my MLIS. I finished the degree two years later and have never looked back. I worked for the state library for four-and-a-half years and while I dearly loved it, I realized that I still loved teaching. It was then that I discovered academic libraries. I could teach, do reference, participate in collection development, serve patrons—everything I love about being a librarian. I began working in the academic setting in 2005 and love it.
The statement I often here is “You’re a librarian, you must love to read.” While that’s certainly a true statement, it’s not my reason for being a librarian. I did a research project several years ago and interviewed three librarians at different career stages about what, other than monetary compensation, keeps them in the profession. No matter what their career stage, all had similar answers and echoed my thoughts exactly. All said that the work with patrons and the interactions with people are what keeping coming through the library doors each day. I couldn’t agree more! Helping a patron find the perfect book or poem or teaching a class and seeing patrons catch on to database searching and find exactly what they need—priceless! So, while I, like many librarians, do indeed love books and love to read, it is the people I work with and help that makes my job not just a job.
I have been a librarian for 15 years and am still just as awed and honored to be part of this profession now as I was then. It’s not only my career, it’s part of who I am, and who I strive to be. I’ve found my home!