so, ivy - I've always been curious, but never known who to ask. how did you end up as a librarian.. and what's it like? have you always wanted to be one? what do you do as a librarian on a day to day basis? I always presumed librarians weren't the ones shelving books..?
I ended up as a librarian completely by accident! I was in a doctoral program in history, and I was bored out of my skull and really lonely, so I dropped out and decided I should do something else with my life. My mother wanted me to to go teacher’s college, but I went to library school instead. I thought it would be a nice stress-free sort of job, a good 9-4:30 sort of thing. I had no idea at all what the profession was all about at the time (I certainly had no idea I would be eligible for anything as luxurious as a sabbatical). But once I got there, I learned more about it and realized that librarianship was actually pretty cool and I was remarkably well-suited for it (or it was remarkably well-suited for me, one way or the other!). So it was a complete accident, but a happy one!
I don’t know what the percentage is, but I’d say librarianship as a whole is weighted heavily on the side of people who didn’t expect to be librarians. It’s a frequent second career. I only know a couple of people who always knew they wanted to be librarians. Most people don’t know what librarians do, so anyone who wanted to be a librarian from a young age frequently just wants to pet books all day. Those people don’t tend to make great librarians and probably hate the actual job. Because there is very little book-petting involved. If any. It’s like someone who loves to cuddle fluffy animals training to be a vet. You have to see some horribly abused ones, many injured and unhappy ones, and you have to put them out of their misery. Sometimes loving something so much is the wrong reason to become its shepherd.
What I do as a librarian largely involves consulting with teaching faculty around technology issues, troubleshooting their problems, managing web-related projects and people doing web-related projects, and generally causing mayhem. I think the only connection I have to the books is advising on the possibility of mounting Raspberry Pis in the stacks so students can get help via instant message rather than walking all the way back down to the reference desk. Though I’m also trying to agitate that we get involved in the negotiation and delivery of etextbooks, does that count as book-related? I spend most of my time refining services and trying to make the library as a whole more useful. I wish everyone would listen to me and enact all my bright ideas, but sadly only some people do. (Sadly for me. Probably not sadly for them.)
It’s kind of amazing how frequently people ask me this question. Anyone who follows me is going to understand librarianship better than 99.9% of the population, I swear to god.