Library Routes – How I became a librarian

This post is my contribution to the Library Routes wiki, whose purpose is to gather together the stories of current librarians: how they entered the profession and what paths they’ve taken since.

My library roots stretch back deep into my family tree: my maternal grandmother and my mother are also librarians!  However I did not begin my professional life as a librarian: after my B.Sc. (Hons) in Physiological Sciences at Newcastle, I braved the physical and psychological divide and crossed the road to do a PGCE at Northumbria.

And so it was that I became a science teacher and I then spent five loooong years telling kids in four different schools to straighten their ties and marking a LOT of coursework.

Finally I had had enough and began considering my career alternatives.  At this point my genes exerted their influence and I returned to Northumbria University in 2005-06 to do the 1-year, full-time MA in Information and Library Management.  During this year I also worked 20 hours per week in the university library doing the evening shift on the issue desk.

My first post-qualification job was Assistant Librarian at St Clare’s, Oxford.  This was a great starting point for me, as I gained a lot of experience of enquiries, cataloguing and classification and took my first steps into user education.  I teamed up with some of the science teachers and we planned a course of lessons which combined elements of the science curriculum with developing information literacy skills.

In 2007 I moved into a very different type of information work when I became the Electronic Resources Senior Assistant at Oxford University Library Services (OULS).  I very much enjoyed doing more work with computers.  Over the summer of 2008, our small team implemented a new databases portal, OxLIP+, which was a great tool for our users.

Earlier this year I changed jobs again, and took up my current post, Deputy Manager of Staff Development, still within OULS.  This is a very different job, and covers many aspects: co-ordinating the Graduate Trainee programme, running the Staff Library, overseeing Staff Development and Training and managing a team.

If you’re starting out in the library & information world, or thinking about changing jobs, I would recommend that you give anything a go and make sure you get as much experience as you can – paid or not!

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4 Responses to “Library Routes – How I became a librarian”

  1. David viner Says:

    Nice to see librarianship running in the family!

    I’ve found these Library Routes posts very interesting. Did you take part in the Library Day in the LIfe recently?

    • Laura Wilkinson Says:

      Hi David,
      I followed other people’s Library Day in the Life updates, but I was actually on leave that week so I didn’t take part! Maybe next time.

  2. thewikiman Says:

    This is a great contribution to the Project, because you’re in one of those jobs which no one would no exists in the library world if we didn’t tell people via mediums (media?) like this…

    Staff Development seems to be a really exciting area when an Institution takes it seriously!

  3. Library careers: routes in and what does this type of work actually involve? « Laura's Dark Archive Says:

    […] Library Routes – How I became a librarian […]

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