Friday, August 27, 2010

How I became a reference librarian

One day I decided Hey I am totally going to become a librarian!  And so I did the research, went to school, got my MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science) and voil√† here I am.  In library school, Reference is a requirement because it is one of the basic and most recognizable librarian jobs.  I did not like reference.  I decide then and there I would never become a reference librarian.  Oh no, not me.  Fast forward to graduation.  Desperate for a job I am applying anyway that sounds remotely plausible.  My mother calls me and tells me the local library is hiring a librarian and so I apply.  This is not what I had in mind when I went to library school.  I was focused on special libraries.  But once again, DESPERATE.  Meanwhile, all I'm getting are rejection letters because at that point the only experience I had was as a GA in circulation at my university library which is fine but doesn't have the impact that a different GA position (like reference) would have had.  I had an interview in the small town in Mississippi that I was, frankly, horrified by and was DESPERATE not to take.  At that point, I think I also had an interview at my hometown's local library too.  On the way back from showing BT the little town where we were both like no way I got the call.  I had the job at the hometown library!  YAY.

Now let me back up.  I was interviewed by the Director of the Library, the Assistant Director and the Children's Librarian (which I thought was weird but whatever, there turned out to be a reason for it*) and the position I was interviewing was a little vague.  The Director did most of the talking anyway and she indicted that it would be a "floating" position until the new branches were built.  So I thought I'd been doing a little here and a little there.  Fine, whatever.  Well, she offers me the job and doesn't say exactly what it is.  Once again, fine, whatever.

Now I am excited.  YES!  I have a job as a librarian in a public library.  Not quite what I wanted but a good entry level position.  Something to get me started.  BT and I get all the arrangements together.  I moved into my parent's house for a couple of weeks while he waits to get transferred to our new city and go to work.  I remember that morning so very vividly.  First, I can't figure out how to get in the building because it isn't opened yet.  Side door finally found and then I'm in but a few minutes late because of it.  I'm meet by the Assistant Director and she shows me around and then brings me to the reference desk.  I'm shocked!  REFERENCE!!  I didn't sign up for reference.  But, oh I did.  She is shocked that the Director didn't tell me.  It's crazy.  It turns out that they really did need a reference librarian.  The old one had left and the cataloger was doing double duty.  So all that crap in the interview was just the Director talking out of her head.  Weird.  Also it turned out she was retiring like 3 weeks after I started so she really didn't care as indicted by the first thing she said to me which was "Don't be late again because I had to fire someone for that."  To which I replied that I was on time, I just couldn't get into the building.

So at lunch, I ate somewhere, called BT and CRIED because REFERENCE, woe.  I planned to work it until I could find another job, but I ended up staying for 4 years working as the Reference and Interlibrary Loan Librarian.  And it turned out it was something I was good at doing.  I have a strong customer service background and an insatiable curiosity and need to find things.  Perfect for reference. 

*Because the Director was retiring, the Assistant Director took her place and the Children's Librarian became the Assistant Director.  That is why there were all there.

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