Library Routes Project

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(NB: Originall posted to my Library2.ning blog 07/01/2010)

The Library Routes Project wiki was set up last year to find out how librarians got into their present job.

Quote: “The idea is to document either or both of your library roots – how you got into the profession in the first place, and what made you decide to do so – and your library routes – the career path which has taken you to wherever you are today. As well as being interesting of itself, it will also provide much needed information and context for those just entering the profession or wishing to do so.”

So, I thought I’d put down my career path here.

It all started when I was about 11. I was bought a home computer by my parents and I learned how to programme it – only games. (Tandy Color Computer & then an MSX, if you’re interested) I carried on until other things distracted me and I didn’t do any programming for a few years. After leaving school I wanted to do something computery, but wasn’t sure what. I dithered around and was unemployed for a while.

One day I saw a job advert for a librarian and fell into the trap of thinking “That’s a nice safe job. I won’t have to talk to anyone there.” ;-) It turned out that I needed a degree to work in a library… or that’s what I thought at the time. I didn’t know I could have worked as a library assistant without a degree.

So, I went to Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) in the early 1990s and studied Library and Information Management. While there I elected to do a database management module – back into computery stuff! At that time it was mostly Paradox database programming, but also a bit of this new fangled thing called the world wide web. I wasn’t impressed by it at the time – not enough wizzy things on it. It was just all text.

I graduated and had a couple of long term temporary contracts at Higher Education College Libraries. My work was split between enquiry desk, cataloguing and putting together training/crib sheets for networked CD-Rom information services.

Then back in 1997 I became one of the cataloguers for the public library service I currently work for. This role transformed over time – as staff left, we tried to make more use of automating processes. eg EDI, mapping classification data, so that the human input was reduced.

Over the past couple of years I’ve become more interested in what the internet can offer – how you can tweak the data, how you can collaborate online, the information it can provide. This was fortunate, as the library service went through a restructure in 2008 and I became the Technical Librarian in the Virtual Content Team. I still oversee the cataloguing work, but don’t do much on a daily basis. I’m more involved with Library2.0 and Web2.0 strategy now, including seeing how we can make use of technology to promote the library service and how we can provide our library users and staff with skills/information they need in a technology dominated world.

I also got back into programming and now I’m looking at whether I can develop my programming skills to produce mashups. It’s early days for me though on this side of things.

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