Inspired by some of my fellow bloggers entries last week, I thought I would share with all of you how I came to library sciences. One of the things I love about library school is that the students come from a whole variety of backgrounds. Some have worked in libraries for years, others, like myself, had never done any kind of formal work in a library before entering. There’s no course pre-requisites, no track you have to have been on since age 8. You just have to tell us why you want to be here, and chances are, that passion will be enough to get your foot in the door. And once you’re in school, you can focus on racking up all that valuable internship and volunteer experience that will help you land a job afterwards.
So let me start by being honest. Before I applied to the school library program here at Simmons, I had no idea that such a thing existed. Yes, you read that right: I had no idea my future profession was something you could get a degree in until about two months before I applied, but as soon as I read about it online, I knew I had found the perfect degree for me. I’d had previous experience teaching in Taiwan for a year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, and I loved it. The year had its ups and downs to be sure, but on the whole, it was a life-changing experience. The kids were cute as buttons, I forged some incredible relationships, and I came away satisfied with the knowledge that I had directly impacted the lives of my students. The logical choice would have been to go and get an M.Ed and become a teacher, but though I gave the idea serious consideration, it just didn’t feel right.
And so, as my year in Taiwan drew to a close, I began the process of applying for a job in India, at a major IT company. Months passed, and the hiring process moved slowly, but eventually I got the job, and I moved to Bangalore to begin work in October 2010. I was apprehensive before arriving, having never pictured myself in a corporate environment, and I quickly realized my instincts had been right, and that taking the job had been a mistake. At the same time though, I was well aware that quitting a job and having nothing to do was not really a feasible option, so I began to research graduate school options.
The M.Ed. idea came up again, but it still didn’t feel quite right, so I continued looking. And then it hit me: I knew two people who were librarians, and one in particular seemed to really love her job (she works as a branch manager in Chicago), so I reached out to them. They were full of encouragement, and so I decided to investigate library school a little bit more, and that’s when I learned about school librarianship. While in Taiwan, I’d focused on integrating technology and books into the classroom to supplement the English curriculum, and the challenge I’d most enjoyed was how to strategically think about teaching my students skills I knew they would need the following year and beyond. School librarianship would allow me to work as an educator and teach students while playing a role in supporting the curricular needs of an entire school. Better yet, it focused heavily on integrating the latest technology tools and trends to enrich student learning. It turns out, I’d been doing many of the same things a school librarian does (albeit in a very limited capacity) while in Taiwan. I couldn’t believe it. I applied, I got in, and I accepted my spot at Simmons without a moment’s hesitation. I’ve never looked back. With mere months to go before I graduate, I still cannot believe that I have found a profession that I love and that someday soon (hopefully!) I will get paid to do it.
So if you’re out there, wondering what on earth you’re going to do with yourself come September next year, investigate library school. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but I’m continually impressed with the breadth of areas one can focus on in library school. Far from being a stodgy relic of the past, it’s a dynamic and vibrant field, straddling the worlds of print and technology, digitization and archives, preservation and cataloging with ease. It’s an exciting time (even if the news is sometimes grim) to be a librarian. Why don’t you join us?