Growth of a Librarian

Library Love
March 24, 2012, 7:20 pm
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It has taken me quite some time to think of anything further to write about on this blog, but after reading The Library Book I’ve finally come up with a few ideas.  It was interesting to read about the quirky libraries that various authors had known and loved as children, and the impact those buildings had on their lives as adults.  This started me thinking about the libraries I grew up with, and the impact they had on my life.

I have always loved libraries, because I have always loved books.  As a kid I went through books at an astonishing rate, and the only way to have new books on a regular basis was through my local library.  Luckily I had parents who encouraged me to read by reading to me when I was very young, and by taking me to the library on a regular basis throughout my life.  The local library in the town where I grew up was quite small, but it was the perfect size for a child.  I could wander around without fear of getting lost and felt entirely at home.  The staff were friendly, there were children’s, young people’s and adult books (both fiction and non-fiction), a fascinating card catalogue, and even a big cage with three or four chirpy budgies.  Every summer there was a summer reading program that included events and prizes (mugs and stickers were common) for reading a specified number of books.  I seem to remember completing the reading challenge twice in some years.

When I was a young teenager the public library temporarily moved from the building it had been in my whole life to an empty store in our local shopping mall while a new building was built on the old site.  The location in the shopping mall was noisy and cramped, and I remember being very disappointed about the move initially.  The new layout forced me to explore new parts of the library’s collection, however, since I couldn’t simply settle in my accustomed corner.  It also meant that I had the unique experience of being a teenager who eagerly awaited trips to the mall not to go shopping but rather to go to the library.

The new building that finally opened to house the public library has always been somewhat disappointing.  It seems too big, almost cavernous, for the number of books it houses, and although modern inside it lacks any sense of character.  Although I continued to use this new library off and on for several years, I never connected to the building in the same way that I did to either of the previous two locations.  Perhaps the difference in my age had something to do with it, but the new building never seemed to have any magic.

It might seem that one public library (in three various locations) would be enough to shape one child’s love of libraries, however, for me it was only the beginning.  My elementary school had a beautiful old library, which I loved very much.  The building had originally been built to house a high school, so the library was not scaled down to the size of young children, and  retained its original wooden shelving which I perceived as towering to the ceiling.  The library was also overseen by a friendly librarian, who read stories, taught us about the Dewey decimal system, and helped us pick books for our assignments.  Every year in elementary school we had ‘library class’, which meant a trip to the library once or twice a week for a class with the librarian.  It was one of the constants that could be depended on each year, and was something I missed very much when I went to middle and high school.  Although both my subsequent schools had libraries, we rarely went there as a class, and never on a regular basis, so that leaving elementary school behind also meant leaving behind regular trips to the school library.

Other public libraries played smaller roles in my childhood.  There was a branch of a public library in a larger city down the road from where I lived that had a much larger collection housed in a much larger building.  As a kid it was always very exciting to stop at that library on a day out, where I was literally overwhelmed with new and unexpected choices in books.  The library itself was housed in a lovely building with big bay windows in the children’s area and a cozy fireplace in the reference department.  As I grew older I began to frequent other branches of the city’s library in search of new books, and it continued to be a keen pleasure to revel in the expanse of choice through my teenage and adult years.

Finally there were the public libraries that I stopped at briefly while on trips with my family.  My parents have always been very fond of car trips, and we spent weeks each year travelling across the country by car.  Scenery was not of great interest to me between the ages of five to twelve years old, and books were indispensable as a way to pass the time.  At six years old my favorite stops (I have been told) were at playgrounds and libraries.  I can easily believe this, since I clearly remember a small public library in a town near the entrance to a national park where my family often went camping.  Especially on rainy days my parents would sometimes take me to the library for a break from the rain, and I remember feeling at home among the well-worn chairs and books.

In looking back at the libraries that were important to me as a child, it doesn’t seem at all surprising that I should choose to work in a library now.  If anything it is only surprising that it took me so long to work out that this was what I wanted to do.  Clearly I am drawn to libraries as places that are homely, inviting, reliable, interesting and exciting.  I may not remember exactly when my fascination with libraries began, but I do know that they are unique places that I continue to love to this day.


December 3, 2011, 5:54 pm
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Finally at the end of CPD23!  A bit late, but finishing none the less, which is quite exciting!  Right at the moment I’m mainly pleased for having seen this programme through, and I’ve definitely learned more about all sorts of ‘tech-y’ things and feel in the loop just enough to know what things like Twitter, Evernote, and LinkedIn are all about, even if I’m not actively using them (never did become a big Twitter fan, just can’t think in short, unconnected bursts!).  I definitely got some good ideas for sprucing up my CV and cover letter, and am going to sit down and do an overhaul of them before I start applying for jobs again in the next 9 months or so.  I have every intention of giving it a month or two before I start on that, however, and am looking forward to an uncluttered Christmas, with no new Things to think about.  Which isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed this process, just that I enjoy the holidays even more!

Once more I must also add how much I’ve enjoyed following along with others’ blogs, and have really learned a lot in the virtual classroom/common room that seems to have developed out of this programme.  I’m not sure if I’ll continue with this blog, mostly because I’m not sure what I would say without a topic provided to me, but I am hoping to at least occasionally add some library-related entries.  Perhaps my new year’s resolution should be to make the effort to keep writing, so do let me know if you have suggestions of topics to ease me in!  Until then – happy holidays and happy libraries to all!

Reflecting 2
October 23, 2011, 6:15 pm
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The very first thought that strikes me about cpd23 at the moment is that I have fallen behind!  This pains me somewhat, since I like to be organised and timely, but circumstances being what they are lately I don’t have any guilt on the matter.

Despite falling behind, I definitely want to finish the programme because it has introduced so many interesting gadgets, ideas, etc.  Those 23 things have been pretty interesting so far and made me aware of a lot of new gadgets and applications that I never knew existed.

Interesting as this whole process has been how been, however, I don’t feel as thought I have actually implemented many of the things in ways that changes my workflow or professional life at all.

The blog has still been my favorite part of the experience, both as a way to reflect on aspects of librarianship and a way to find out what other professionals are doing out there.  Reading blogs, commenting, and working through cpd23 has definitely given me a stronger sense of being part of a profession of networked individuals.

As for using the various social media platforms and internet-based tools, I’ve explored each and implemented some but not used any in what I would consider a truly professional capacity.  In a lot of ways I feel as though I am storing away the information about a lot of these things so that I know they’re out there in case I ever come across a project or situation where I need them.  The things I’ve used the most have probably been in the realm of social media, like Twitter and Linked In, which I’ve put ongoing time into exploring, although I still feel somewhat unsure as to their ultimate usefulness for me as an individual.

July 15, 2011, 3:55 pm
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At first I thought the timing of this week of reflection couldn’t be better, because it seemed like an easy Thing to do and I’m busy with other things this week.  I have realized, however, that there’s more to reflective practice than just having a week off, so I’ve been putting off this entry until I could take the time to reflect properly.  One of the blogs suggested in the original Thing 5 post really helped me get my head around the idea by offering lots of different models (my favorite was Kolb), so already I’ve learned something this week and I haven’t even begun dissecting what I learned from the other Things!

So far I have enjoyed the Things focused on blogs most; especially reading others’ blogs and getting a sense of all the variety of librarians taking part.  Setting up this blog and thinking about my personal brand has taught me a lot too.  Although I’m still not entirely sure where I stand in terms of a personal brand, exploring the issue provided a lot of food for thought.  Setting up a Twitter account and learning to use it was obviously a new experience, but I am still not entirely convinced that it is working for me.  There seems to be some agreement that it takes a little while to come to terms with Twitter, however, so I am waiting to see if it suddenly clicks and starts to make more sense.  My appreciation of RSS feeds has been reinforced partially in comparison with Twitter (maybe I just don’t think well in snippets?) and partially as I have gone through and deleted and added different feeds so that the information it produces is increasingly relevant and interesting.  I was also inspired, somewhat tangentially, to revisit and reorganize my Delicious page after deciding to give Pushnote a miss.

In a lot of ways it feels like working on the combination of the Things so far means that my electronic librarian tool box has been spruced up, dusted off, and put in working order.  Moving forward I know it is important to maintain my levels of use with all these tools, so that they don’t get rusty.  I’m hopeful that continuing and evolving use should mean that I continue to get the benefits out of them and to discover more complex ways to use them.