Wednesday, August 20, 2008

That how I became a librarian thing

I got tagged by a member of the LauraCon (secretly, I was quite excited to be tagged. I almost never get tagged!) for one of the recent memes - the "How I became a librarian" one. So:

Libraries were always someplace we went growing up, and when I went off to undergrad, after working initially in the dining hall, I ended up working in the library, where I keyed government documents into the catalog, printed the labels and stacked the docs on a shelf where the eventually got shelved. I also did prep on paperback items that came in - contact paper, reinforcing front and back covers.

I graduated, and my first job was with a payday loan company. I started working for them as a customer service rep, then became a branch manager, and finally an internal auditor. In the process, I moved from Chattanooga to Murfreesboro to Nashville in TN, then down to Jackson, MS and finally over to Atlanta. A note: after starting with this company in February 1996, I intended to apply to library school to begin in Fall 1996, but was concerned about more student loans right then, so postponed it.

About six months after moving to Atlanta, those of us who had been asked to move (this was after the original company was bought out - I had continued working for the original company), everyone who had moved to Georgia (there were 4 of us) was laid off in May 2000. We were given interviews with another company based in Cleveland, TN that was in the same business and trying to expand, but I didn't like the vibe I got from them. I'd been thinking that it was time to move on from that company anyway - I was holding out for a year from the relocation to be up.

I still wasn't heading to library school! I got another job as an internal auditor, this time with a publicly traded company, Oxford Industries, in Atlanta. This was a good job - and I started about a month after the layoff, so the timing was perfect to have seen the opening! I learned a lot there, and worked with some fantastic people, including both my direct supervisors, one of whom is now the Vice President of Capital Markets and Treasurer. I got to travel some with this position - including to San Pedro Sula and Tegucigapla in Honduras. I'd been there almost two years when my boss called me into my office and asked me if I wanted to be in her job in five years - and said that if I didn't, then maybe I should think about what I wanted to do. She wasn't firing me, and if I'd wanted to stay, she was encouraging me to take some classes in accouting at one of the local universities. But it didn't take me that long to make the decision - with about 10 days (I was leaving on an audit trip), I let her know that what I wanted was to go to library school. Within 10 days of that, I took the GREs (and kicked some serious ass), got my recommendations and got my application off to the U of TN School of Information Science. She kept me on until I left - and she didn't have to - and in August, I moved to Knoxville to start grad school. I graduated in May 2004, and moved to Youngstown, OH to start my first professional gig at YSU in September 2004, and last summer I moved out here to Tucson to begin my second one.

Am I happy about the change in profession? Yeah. Sure there are days I understand just what salary I gave up in the career change, and I know where I could be now. But being in a job where you are sick every morning before going to work does you no good and does the organization you're working for no good, because you're not productive. I like being a librarian. I love working with the students and teaching instruction sessions. Are there things I don't like about the profession? Yes, of course there are. But those things aren't going to make me give up on the whole thing. Because how many people would I not know if I hadn't done that? My life would be a hell of a lot duller without the vibrant librarian personalities I now know!

1 comment:

Laura said...

Wow. The different routes by which people arrive in this profession never cease to amaze me. Just when you start thinking we're all just a bunch of lost humanities majors, along comes a story like yours. Thanks for sharing!