Thursday, 8 July 2010

On a year in the profession

One year ago today, I discovered librarianship as a profession. Little over a year ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life: I had never given any thought to becoming a librarian, never wondered about how libraries worked, never heard the acronym ‘CILIP’. Libraries always had a special significance: the word had mysterious connotations suggesting expansiveness, knowledge, and strangeness. The idea of libraries had always held an inexplicable attraction but reality never measured up to the promise of the ideal: my local public library was old and dingy with books that had to be wrapped in laminate to keep from falling apart. My first university’s library was the first to come close to the idea that had fallen into my head. It became a place I felt safe, where I could hang out among the stacks. But still, I never considered librarianship: I’m not sure but I think I considered libraries – big ideal libraries – beyond my ken, as if I could never become a custodian of something so special and ethereal.
Now, librarianship, information organisations, and the library community are such large parts of my life that everything prior to my library awakening seems hollow, as if waiting to be filled. It’s hard to say who I was before this year. A librarian in utero: a sleeper agent waiting for the stimuli to activate hidden portions of my consciousness? Or was it a developmental process: the larvae developing itself to break free of its cocoon?
But the past is gone and dwelling on it only serves reflective purposes. What matters is the present: the achievements of the past year. In the space of twelve months, I have gone from complete unawareness of the profession to occupying my first professional post. In the space of twelve months, I have gained a PGDip in Library and Information Management with the intention of bumping it up to an MA by completing my dissertation. In the space of twelve months, I have become a specialist in emerging Internet technologies, digital libraries, and e-books: topics that I had given no thought to when I had been lost in the forests of abstraction and metaphysics. In the space of twelve months, I have gone from being a man of no profession to attending the New Professionals Conference as part of a blossoming career.
Everything has changed so much in such a short time. And I feel like I’ve barely done anything to get here. I’ve been lucky with my postgraduate and employment applications; I’ve relied on the guidance, kindness, and expertise of others; I’ve absorbed the wisdom of the library and information community who I can’t thank enough for accepting me so openly – on the blogosphere, on Twitter, and in the all-important ‘real world’. All year I’ve wondered how I have been lucky enough to get to join this profession, how the people that I’ve met have been good enough to accept me as I am, and how unbelievable it is that I get encouraged (and paid!) to do things that I want to do.
Thank you to the friends who have accepted me, to the teachers and employers who have taught me, and most importantly to the people who woke me up one year ago today.
On to Year Two…

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