23 Things – 20/23 Library Roots and Library Routes

This Thing is about Library careers and the story behind how we find ourselves in them.  And there quite often is a story!  As Laura Woods said in the Thing 20 Blog post very few people seem to grow up wanting to be a librarian, simply because they don’t really know that it’s an option.

I was one of those people.  The first time I remember someone talking about Librarianship as a career was when I was an Undergraduate and another student told me they were planning to go into the profession after their course.  To be honest I thought it sounded like a bit of a dull move – much like everyone else who knows very little about the profession, I misjudged it and had no idea about the opportunities available.  At the time I was pretty much decided on a career in teaching anyway and it wasn’t until four years into life as a primary school teacher that I realised I was on the wrong career path and needed to try something else.

I decided to look at careers that took me back to my roots in classical history, so I considered things like museum curator, archaeologist and even academic , I tried out Counselling too by attending a short introductory course – but none of them felt right either.  In the end I turned to the Prospectus careers advice page, filled in their career questionnaire and up popped librarianship!  I did a lot of research into the career, looking at CILIP pages, the National Careers Service job profiles and Graduate Trainee blogs and eventually did some volunteering at my local university library.  It was only really after volunteering for four months that I felt sure this was the right career for me as I finally got to see what librarianship was really all about!

The next step was trying to figure out how to actually get into Librarianship.  While I applied for jobs as a library assistant, I had no library experience to speak of so was unable to really access the career through that path.  Thankfully, Graduate Traineeships exist exactly for this reason!  The fact that so many people come to librarianship as a second or later career means that there are these avenues available to help get people the experience they need to access the workplace.  I was lucky enough to be accepted as the Graduate Trainee at St Hugh’s College in Oxford, which provided me with the opportunity to develop key skills and gain invaluable experience working in a busy academic library, while also partaking in the Bodleian Library Trainee Scheme, which gave me a greater insight to the scope of library work.

Currently, I am a library assistant at St Hugh’s and also a part-time student, working toward an MSc in Information and Library Management at UWE.

My route into libraries has been anything but direct but it does seem to be quite a well-used road and hopefully, having other experiences behind me can only ultimately increase what I have to offer to the profession.


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