As as newly qualified information professional, I really wanted to experience working in a variety of different libraries. I worked in an academic research law library and so was becoming familiar with how libraries cater to graduate students and the kinds of materials and resources that were made available to them.
However, I found myself wondering what it would be like to stray away from that kind of environment. I wondered whether my skills would be better put to use somewhere else.
Luckily, I was able to obtain a temporary role at a public library. In addition to this, I began working at a time where they were restructuring. This meant that a lot of the staff were new to the library (although not new to the borough) and a lot of the operations that go on in a library had to be discussed and assigned to various individuals.
Thus, at first everything was really hectic. If it had been my first job in a library I don’t think I would have survived as well as I have. I was able to adapt really well because of my previous experience, but there were a lot of differences in how I should do things and the tasks that needed to be done compared to my previous experience. I was literally learning on the job and I am still learning.
One thing that really struck as me as being the most important when working in a library, are the procedures that we have to go through in order to make sure that everything is done properly. With proper and organised training, staff members can confidently and successfully perform a number of tasks. Without that, it’s like running in the dark with a torch. You don’t know where you’re going and what you’re missing.
However, it’s helpful when everyone is willing to help one another and is willing to actively encourage everyone to get involved. I’ve had no qualms about asking anyone questions or reporting any issues. Thus in a hectic environment where everyone is finding their place, it’s nice that no one is just looking out for themselves.
I definitely don’t think I would have gained this kind of experience if I had decided to stay in law or academic libraries. I do feel like I needed something dramatic and organised to happen for me to feel like I’m getting somewhere in deciding what information professional I want to be.
Although I don’t know where I will end up and what kind of career I’ll have, I do know that I like having a varied role, I like helping people with their different needs (whether it’s formatting a CV or how to use their iPAD) and I like simply getting on with what needs to be done.
I’m glad that I haven’t pigeonholed myself because I don’t think I would be enjoying myself this much and looking forward to the future.