A year ago I was finishing up my last days of being a speech therapist. A year ago I was leaving Chicago, my home of 10 years, only 25 miles from where I grew up to come to Champaign, IL. 150 miles away…the furthest I have lived from home at the age of 34. Excitement doesn’t begin to describe how I felt about my new journey.
Prior to librarianship, I was an IT consultant, IT recruiter, amateur voiceover artist, and speech therapist occasionally dabbling in creative writing. I still love writing, but I knew I needed something that was more structured…something that truly fed my need to share information with others. Enter librarianship. I knew this is what I wanted after attempting and pondering so many careers. One year later, I know I made the right choice.
But how do I know THIS is it? Well, honestly, maybe it isn’t “it”, is anything really? But it is for now, and I have never been more certain of a career. After one year of library school, I have confirmed my beliefs that this was the best career for me. PHEW! However, I have wondered if what has confirmed it has been my specific experiences (attending the LIS program University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, taking specific classes, having a specific job, etc) or what I have made of them. Honestly I don’t quite know.
I do know that I have always felt so comfortable in a library, especially an academic library. After being in so many professional environments where I just never felt like I totally fit, this is a liberating feeling. I do know that I have enjoyed my classes generally, but I would only call a couple of them critical to what I have learned. On-the-job lessons have been more valuable for me, in my opinion. With that being said, next semester I am taking two classes that I have looked forward to taking: Introduction to Bibliographic Metadata (Cataloging) and Instruction and Assistance Systems (Instruction). I do hope that these classes provide me with much needed skills. Cataloging is not something I wish to do as one of my primary librarian responsibilities, but I feel is critical for me to better understand as a librarian. I want to do reference and instruction (Reference was a class I took last summer that I felt was critical for me), so Instruction is also something I believe will truly help me be a better librarian.
However, I do not want to minimize classes in an LIS program. As I mentioned in a previous post, however, the teaching methodologies have really made a difference in how I was engaged. Some discussion-oriented classes I took, especially with Professor Emily Knox, really opened my mind and offered me a chance to question my own views, question “normalcy”, and just QUESTION. While I also took Reference as an official class, these other classes also taught me reference skills indirectly. They taught me to not assume anything and consider epistemologies.
I also came into this profession via #critlib. In a way, I was misguided thinking that this line of thinking was pervasive throughout the profession. However, I still have hope that progressive librarianship and dispelling the myth of library neutrality will continue to push forward. I have had incredible conversations and interactions with librarians that are on the same page, and this is beyond encouraging. Having a community within a profession is SO IMPORTANT. This emotional support is what allows us to embrace the nuances of our profession. The racism. The sexism. The homophobia. The ableism. The transphobia. It is in our libraries and we need to continue to fight it. The personal is professional and vice versa. I don’t care what anyone says. When you spend at least 40 hours a week doing something, it doesn’t matter how professional you want to keep it…it seeps into the cracks of our non-professional settings.
Do I feel energized constantly by librarianship? No. (Who does with any job?) Have I had interactions that made me know 100% this is what I wanted to do? Hell yes. Do I truly feel like myself in this field? I do.
You can call this a personal validation post. You can call it inspirational. You can call it naive. Or you can call it being completely grounded. I just call it my truth.
This has been one helluva semester, I can tell you that much. Even through personal hardship, political surrealism, feeling overworked, and starting to apply to jobs, I am committed to what WE can do as librarians, especially if we continue to lift each other up. Let’s take on 2017 (and the next 4 years please) with an extra push to keep each other loved, supported, and accountable.