Archive for July, 2012

Why Do You Want To Be A Librarian?

After I graduated undergrad, I knew I wanted to go on the grad school, I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.  I worked a couple of non-degree related jobs and I knew they weren’t really what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but I couldn’t really figure it out.  A little less than a year after I moved to San Diego, I was feel stressed and lonely and went to the nearest branch of the library.  While there, I thought about how it was a place where I felt the most calm and happy.  I thought back through the years and realized that the library had always been one of my favorite places, whether to look through books, to volunteer, or to attend programs.  I started looking into going back to school for my MLIS.  When I first started library school, I thought a lot about whether or not it was the right decision and why I wanted to be a librarian.  Now that I’m going through the job-hunting process, I’ve been thinking about that question again.  It’s something that’s not only important for me to be sure of, but it’s also a question that comes up in interviews frequently.

Recently one of my professors told an anecdote about a frequent answer to the question “Why do you want to be a librarian?” being “I love to read.”  Obviously a love of reading is a common characteristic of library employees (and certainly one I share myself – just look at the title of this blog!), but I don’t believe it should be the sole reason for becoming a librarian.  Sitting in a quiet room and reading may be the stereotypical view of a librarian, but it’s certainly not the realistic one.  The decision to choose a career can be both the simplest and most complicated one made.  My reasons for choosing librarianship are both.

I love helping people find the answers they need.  A small anecdote:  Among a particular group of my friends, I sometimes have the nickname Koogle  – a combination of my name and Google – for my ability to quickly find the answers to their questions.  I gained the same reputation among the members of the military family support site I helped run until recently.  There is a thrill in the process of taking someone’s question and helping them discover the answer, like an information detective.  Though we live in an age when it’s easy for anyone to get online and look for an answer, it’s also easy for them to come across incorrect information and problematic sources.  It’s just as important as ever for information professionals to offer help in sifting through to find the best way to search for the best answer.

Along with that, I’m an information junkie with interests in many topics.  There are very few career paths that allow for such a wide variety of interests in one job.  Being a librarian allows for this variety.

I feel very passionately about literacy, especially in youth.  Though reading among young people is making a resurgence, literacy rates and interest in reading are still not has high as would be ideal.  I want to work with youth to help them be excited about reading, to realize that reading can move beyond what’s required for school ( and not just to novels, but to graphic novels, magazines, even online) , and to help them improve their schools and gain confidence in their abilities.

I get excited by new technologies and tools.  Some of my favorite aspects of my courses have been learning about various platforms, tools, and programs that can be used to improve the experience of the patrons and the staff.  Librarianship may be viewed as a stuffy, old-fashioned profession, but that is far from the truth.  Librarians and information professionals are often in a position to try out new technologies and tools and to find the best ways to use those.

I get genuinely excited thinking about library programming and services.  The other day, while waiting before an interview, I was reading over that particular library system’s programming catalog. I couldn’t keep a smile off my face reading the descriptions and thinking about what I would do if I was in charge of running those programs or creating new ones.  My favorite course assignments involve coming up with creative new or improved ways to better serve the patrons through programs or services.

I want to work in a service position.  In my previous employment and volunteer positions, I found I’m the most happy when I’m helping others.  Obviously, there are many fields in which I would be able to do that, but librarianship fits with that desire and with my interests.   With librarianship, I can help the community while engaging in something I enjoy and and passionate about.

Finally, probably the most simple reason of all, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.  Though it took me a few years to come to this decision – and though much of what I’ve read about the prospects of breaking into the field has been discouraging  – I know I made the right decision.  Whether I’m able to get a job I want next week or a few years from now, it will be worth it.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Typically when I do a book review post, I’m only reviewing one book.  However, I’ve been lucky enough this spring and summer to have a chance to read some great books that I didn’t have time to review. So, instead, I wanted to highlight a few of these books that I found particularly enjoyable.  The regular style of reviewing will return in a few weeks when my semester is over.

 

Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth

It’s no secret that I enjoy dystopian fiction and the first two books of the Divergent series certainly do not disappoint.  Tris is the type of heroine I adore: strong, but imperfect, and willing to fight for what she thinks is right whether it has to do with her society, her family, or her love.  The setting Roth creates is vivid and both compelling and horrifying at the same time.  And who couldn’t love Four?

 

Graceling and Fire by Kirstin Cashore

Graceling and Fire are the first two books in Cashore’s Gracling Trilogy.  Though the two exist in the same world, they are not sequels; in fact, Fire is more of a prequel.  They both have a few other things in common, as well: powerful but vulnerable heroines who know their own minds,  love interests that respect the heroine’s strength and decisions, an suspenseful adventure, and a wondrous setting.  Cashore creates a world that’s beautiful, scary, and so vivid you feel like you jumped into the action yourself.

 

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

This is the type of book that will break your heart, piece it together, and then break it all over again. It’s impossible to read this without completely loving Jennifer and Cameron and hoping for everything to work out with both of them.  This isn’t the book to read if you want a tidy resolution, though, and I respect Zarr for that.  However, if you want something that will make you appreciate the impact people can have on each others lives, Sweethearts will give you that and much more.

 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Prior to this, I had never read anything by Levithan.  I had read a few of Green’s books, and while I enjoyed them, he isn’t necessarily one of my favorite authors.  This combined effort, however, I loved.   Green and Levithan alternate chapters written from the point of view of their particular Will Grayson.  While this sounds confusing, it actually is a really interesting way to draw you into the story and weave the two lives together.  Both of the Will Graysons are such endearing characters (though I ended up preferring Levithan’s).

 

Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk

This one is a little different in that it’s not YA and I”m not entirely sure how I feel about it.  I honestly can’t tell if this book is genius or terrible.  Either way, it’s definitely worth checking out.  In the grand tradition of Palahniuk, the story is never what it seems.  It is really satisfying when it all starts to click, though.  Plus, like most of his books, it includes some very choice lines you’ll find yourself wanting to highlight.