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!