When I tell people I plan to become a librarian, they look at me askance before saying, ‘I can see that.’ It’s not my favorite reaction. I attempt not to frown as I see how their eyes rest on my glasses, my purse overstuffed with books, my inability to not dress like a teacher. There are certain commonly held ideas on what a librarian looks like and what makes one suited for the work. A duality created by television tropes that means librarians must be people loving and creative in the same way kindergarten teachers are perceived and at the same time introverted book lovers with a hatred of noise. The love of books and intrinsic ‘nerdiness’ people observe in me, however, is not what will make me a great librarian.
Library science is about making information easily accessible. With the internet, there is so much information available, but it can be difficult to distinguish what is opinion, conspiracy, peer reviewed or fact. I first understood that librarians connect information with people, through organizing materials and assisting those who come to search for knowledge and don’t just spread a love of reading, in my senior high school. I volunteered as a page in the summer reading program to introduce children to the wonderful authors I gobbled up when I was that age. Instead, I learned how public libraries work, how they sort through and disseminate information to help people, and best of all (to the high school me) got to indulge all my organizing tendencies. To this day I still have trouble leaving a bookstore or library without putting misplaced books back in their correct place. Despite enjoying the time I spent as a page I didn’t immediately understand that I would enjoy working in the librarian field. I was unsure even what I wanted to major in, just that I wanted to expand my knowledge of the world and gain more chances to learn. My love of history and curiosity over what motivates humans lead me to Religious Studies.
My love of words and want of understanding kept me in German classes and language clubs. It was an accident of needing more credits and a fascination with access to information that lead me back to libraries. I worked with my Honors Program advisor to design an independent study my junior year. I ended up researching the history of public libraries and how they were changing to reflect the needs of their communities while gaining firsthand experience of how different parts of libraries are run. I learned at the small-town public library in Quogue, NY that librarianship is a field ever-changing with technology, requiring workers eager to adapt to advancements in the ways information can be stored and distributed. My job at the Quogue Library was a defining point in my long-term career goals.
To gain more experience and to learn more about how technology is used in libraries I became an archive assistant at the Friends Historical Archive within Guilford library. I picked up some small knowledge of library cataloging languages and the effort that goes into how the programming works to allow someone to enter a term and easily find the information they need. That job opened my eyes to the information science aspect of librarianship. Though most jobs change with technological advancement, the Internet and other developments in the digital realm impact librarians more immediately, profoundly, and frequently. Most appealing to me about the bottom line of technological advancements in libraries is not how it affects the way employees perform their jobs, but the exciting new ways advancements allow librarians to craft new ways to help patrons and communities they serve.
I am a lifelong learner, it’s in my blood. My parents, grandparents, and many of my other relatives are educators leading by example, sharing a love of learning and the structure of school to support me throughout my life. My path will always be about taking the classes, get the degree, learning everything I can about a profession from an educational point of view. A Library Science degree will help me understand what path I want to follow, and provide the most current, relevant information and the historical background to prepare me to get there. I believe further education is vital toward my obtaining the manner of librarian work that will most engage me. Though I am most interested in classes under the umbrella of librarianship and information architecture, I hope my future schooling will provide me with a better understanding of the various specializations I can take as a librarian and the areas that might interest me. Emporia State University’s School of Library and Information Management appeals to me particularly for its online program and the chance it will give me to learn not just information, technology, and management skills but how those skills interact with the people and societies we hope to serve through a cohort experience. Additionally, I hope through working through a program designed to work for non-traditional students I will gain more practical experience in library work to solidify the knowledge I will obtain in the classroom and improve my prospects in the job market after graduation. My passion toward language, access to information, and technological creation has lead focus in towards involvement with working with data management, curations, and visualization, but my exact career aspirations will likely develop through my schooling at Emporia State University.
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