What led me to become a school librarian?
Let’s rewind back to the summer of 2005. I was working on my bachelor’s degree in Sociology, with no idea of what career I wanted to have. I quit my job working as an in-house roadie at a local concert/event venue to go to Nicaragua for six weeks to do volunteer work. Once I got back from my stay there, I needed a job. I also began to realize that I needed a job with actual, consistent hours (and thus consistent pay) since I was nearing the end of my bachelor’s degree. A friend’s mom was a children’s librarian downtown, and she told me that there was an opening for a library assistant at a local library. I interviewed for it, but then didn’t get it because someone from another branch got promoted into it first. But they really liked me at the interview and recommended me to another branch who needed a Library Page (re:shelver). I got the Page job, and then ended up at the library I originally interviewed at a few months later. I then went on to work different positions at several different branches over the next two years: Library Assistant (shelving and circulation), Library Technical Assistant (reference, computer instruction), etc.
Meanwhile, I finished my bachelor’s degree and met the man who became my husband (working at the library). I was only working part-time, and just as I graduated the economy was starting to get bad, and the county froze all full-time positions. I went for about six months working part-time and living off savings before I realized that this wasn’t going to work. For a long time, I refused to really consider librarianship for a profession – everyone thought that I was working on my library degree, but I didn’t really want to get one. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, I just didn’t think that full-time library work would be it.
But I enjoyed my job, and it just became the logical next step to go back to school and get my Master’s in Library Science. I left the public library, took out some loans, got a job as a graduate assistant, and got my degree. I had originally planned to work in public libraries after getting my degree, but after a few months into the program, I realized that I was very drawn to working in school libraries. In public libraries, you never really get to develop relationships with patrons or mentor others. School libraries afford this opportunity. I also liked the idea of being able to control more – book orders, policies, programs, etc. In the public library, a lot of that is decided by people higher up the ladder. So I specialized in school media, taking children’s lit courses, organization of a school media center, etc. I decided that I wanted to work with elementary students, so I interned with an elementary school library, and then substituted at an elementary library for four months.
Early 2009: Finally, it was about six months after finishing my degree. I was working a part-time grant funded job at the university and substituting to get by, and my student loan payments were looming. I’d submitted tons to resumes and had three interviews at different elementary schools, but I wasn’t having any luck. I think this had a lot to do with the fact that I’d never been a classroom teacher, and elementary positions tend to be heavy on the instruction side. I was starting to get desperate. When a temporary position opened up at a magnet middle school, I didn’t really consider it at first. I wanted a permanent position in an elementary school. But then after subbing at a high school, the secondary supervisor e-mailed me and told me to apply for it. I did, figuring that I’d just switch to elementary the next year. Somehow the stars aligned, and I got my position at Stewart Middle Magnet. And I found out that I LOVE working with middle school students. My position became permanent after a year, and I’ve been there ever since.
My journey to school librarianship is different from that of a lot of my colleagues. This is my first career, not my second or third. I went almost straight to library school after my bachelor’s (I’m a young-un; just turned 30). I came from a public library background – I’ve never been a classroom teacher. But I think that all of this gives me a unique perspective and voice in the school library world, and I’m happy for the opportunity to get to contribute to it.
What’s your #whylib story?