Why I Want To Be A Librarian
Before starting the Masters in Library and Information Studies (MLIS) I worked as an English language teacher in Turkey, South Korea and Ireland. I really enjoy working as an ESL teacher and worked with a variety of students from all ages and levels of English. However, when it came to researching job opportunities for my next big move to London I realised that ESL teaching was not a sustainable career plan as the profession is not well paid nor secure enough to be able to keep up with the cost of living.
My last job in Turkey was in a middle school, it was at this point that I realised that I didn’t enjoy working in the K12 environment and preferred working with adult students. While I was researching possible career routes on the website Prospects I came across the profile for an academic librarian. This career really appealed to me as I could combine my personal interests in research skills development and teaching. After further research on jobs websites there seemed to be a stable flow of vacancies available in London so I looked into different masters courses.
I have always enjoyed visiting and using libraries but up until a year ago I had never thought of pursuing a career in one. As mentioned by other bloggers the Library profession is not something that is widely known about. It never came up in any careers classes I had in school or consultations with careers advisors at college. Previously I had only met two other people who had expressed an interest in working in a library but when I came across it on the Prospects website I knew this was the career for me.
I decided to come back to Ireland to study the MLIS at UCD. Instead of doing a traditional thesis we did a group project called a Capstone. This is a project that addresses a real world information problem and is an ideal way for recent graduates to gain practical experience in the field. Apart from the Capstone project the two modules that stood out the most were the Digital Curation and the Information Professionals as Educators module. In the Digital Curation module I developed a better understanding of how to manage a born digital collection to ensure longevity and accessibility. The Information Professionals as Educators module complements my previous skills as an English language teacher and has prepared me to apply these skills to information literacy training programmes.
I never thought the job hunting phase would be easy but it is much harder than I expected. Although I developed many transferable skills during my teaching career and previous retail experience the lack of direct library experience has proven to be a real barrier in the job market. I am currently gaining experience at an academic library on a short-term contract so hopefully things will pick up from here.
For anyone looking to start a career in Libraries I would recommend gaining as much direct library experience as possible before undertaking a Masters course. It is a very competitive profession and the more direct experience you have the easier it will be for you to gain a professional post.
The top tip I would give to anyone starting in this profession is to get involved with professional bodies such as the Library Association of Ireland (LAI). Throughout this year I have attended many events which have been very useful for my professional development but also really important in gaining an insight into the various facets of the profession. All of the people I met at different events were very friendly and supportive to current students as well as recent graduates which has given me a better understanding of the type of roles available in this sector. I look forward to getting involved in the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) when I relocate to London.
Image credit: http://librariansonthefly.blogspot.ie/2012/05/myth-1-libraries-are-only-about-books.html