Why I became a librarian

This post is in response to Ghylene’s question. I have found the stories from others ( @fionawb, @librarianhoi, @pianica, @greengecko29) so interesting that I thought I’d add my own – though it’s less intriguing.

At the start of Year 12 I can remember the harrassment involved with identifying the tertiary courses for the next year. Up until Year 10 I’d been a good (no – great) student: straight A’s. Then, of course, as I discovered boys & partying, my grades dropped.

There was a clear expectation for me to go on to Uni, but I knew my marks would certainly not ace anything grunty. We still used the Anderson score then, and I knew I would be able to get about 280 – 300 (out of a possible 410). So – and here’s the pragmatic side of me showing very young – I checked the scores required for courses from the year before.

I decided on teaching – secondary schooling. It was a very naive decision based almost solely on To Sir, with love: both book  and film. As I was considering this, I decided to throw in librarianship, to become a teacher-librarian. The decision was purely practical – I knew I could probably pull the score needed to get in, and I figured this way I would have two employment choices at the end of tertiary study, rather than one. It certainly was not a decision driven by a passion to search for answers or to help others build a literate community: there was nothing altruistic in it at all. Once in the course, I enjoyed the work and subject matter but it wasn’t till teaching rounds that my interest began to sway. I enjoyed the students during teaching rounds – but did not like the teachers!

Victorian high schools at the time were being merged into mega-schools (tahnks Jeff) with the smaller ones being forced to close. Victorian teachers were massively unhappy, and from my perspective the politics and cynism was damning. In hindsight I understand perfectly, but at the time the situation did nothing to encourage newcomers. The teachers already felt threatened about their positions, and were not interested in encouraging new blood. One of the secondary colleges I went to for teaching rounds had teachers protesting the close by mounting a live-in to prevent its demolition. The teachers and parents won – but this is not an atmosphere in which to learning about teaching.

On the librarian side of things, I enjoyed librarianship immensely. Teacher-librarianship didn’t excite me much – teacher-librarians did not seem to gain much respect in schools, and appeared to have to fight for all funding. In some cases they were treated as childcare workers. I saw no appeal to being on the bottom rung of the ladder. I’m not saying this to offend any teacher-librarians. There are many brilliant teacher-librarians who have a dramatic impact on their schools and are very well respected – but these are people who hae generally fought the hard fight. At 22 this was not what I wanted to do.

Then on the off chance I got a job in a public library as a library officer in my last year at Uni. I loved it. I loved the staff, working with people, helping people and the variety of contact through the job. So that’s where I headed – and why I ended up as a librarian.

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2 thoughts on “Why I became a librarian

  1. Ruth says:

    Love your honesty. My choice was pragmatic too! After finishing an Arts degree I didn’t want an academic life and I didn’t want to be a teacher. I had been working at my Uni library & enjoying it so seemed a practical career path to develop. I think many librarians have a practical streak and it can be positive.

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