Monday, 17 September 2012

CPD23 Thing #20 Roots/routes

Thing #20 is about the routes or roots of your career in Libraries. The aim is to add this to the wikilist of the roots project and many are inspire and help others to start or getting to just start in libraries.

Like the very foundation of libraries, no two are the same! even if you have the same buildings built, the same book stock and the same opening rules etc, the individual staff are just that individual, and as soon as you add a user! Kaboom! Every user is an individual as well. Libraries is one of those jobs that you can’t plan for everything, it’s a wonderful mix of plans, spontaneous and desperation to stop it falling over.

I spent my childhood bullied and the library was my haven, the books allowed me to escape and walk away while not leaving my chair. I could read in the front room at home and while being with my family I didn't need to interact with them (a fab thing for any teen!) I could gaze out a window and see Mars, Castles, Dances, even fields of Horses! Not the Grey playground, back of the semi-permanent huts, bins waiting to be emptied. My childhood was filled with colour, strange companions who could only be seen by me, wide open vistas or distant sweeping views. The library was my door to this world, I never wanted to leave!

By the time I was getting to the end of primary, I was running the small school library and helping out on the van when it came, which led to me being part of the 'team' that helped set up the new static library in the village up by the big school (not yet in double figures for age )

I was sent to private school and never went to big school, I learned and ran the libraries in the first of these, and it became my bolt hole, I learnt that yes you stamped and took back books but you also processed them, tidied them and mended them! What was coming in and what was going out was also your job! Next private school had a dedicated school librarian! She was such an amazing person but being a teen I just saw her as an extension of the library and not as a resource in herself! I had to decide at 16 between libraries and horses for my future, I spent a summer working at a stable, and loved every cold, wet, muddy minute. But I knew that to do more than day to day manage you had to have real skill, I knew that while I could handle any horse I would never ride well enough to make the world notice me. Books mean while didn’t need feeding at 6am, didn’t mind if you didn’t see every one twice a day at least, and had no reason to get you on a Sunday! And best of all allowed me to wander where I will in my head! Choice made. Library school was my focus, Biology a level not chosen and general studies a level was.

Library school was a shock, where were the books? When did we get to read them! What was this, management, IT, information retrieval, theories of storage and bibliographic studies? There were only 6 of us from school most had been in work for years and either training or retraining! I felt like some lost puppy, patted and fed but lost and out of my depth. Many years later I realise most of that was going to uni, leaving home, and new course! Issues but at the time it was most disconcerting!

With a few Hiccups I graduated and with my degree in hand thought I had an in anywhere! So got woken by the cold cruel world! First job was in a gift shop part time. Second was as a relief mobile library assistant, where I drove the van and when stopped I served the customers and then tidied away before driving on to the next stop! Distance made the job a Monday to Thursday job, nonstop, and after my third child I decided to concentrate on them. Youngest got to one before I cracked and next job was internet helpdesk.

The helpdesk taught me many many things, patience, confidence, and how to say lots and mean little. Nothing I have faced since comes close to stress and hassle of the helpdesk, every call watched for time, every minute analysed and held to account, and of course each caller had to be treated well and with a professional manner. The first at 6am, the one just 30 seconds before you could have gone to lunch! Or just as your due to sign off, The one who calls you names and shouts, the one who has patiently waited for half an hour and is in the wrong queue! The drunken one, the old one, the one who shouldn’t be allowed to be alone! No matter what you had on you must see each person as an individual, even if your bosses only looked at call times and numbers.

I was on holiday when this job came up, and someone cut it out for me, she even dropped it through my door to make sure I got it. I came home on Wednesday late, rang and collected application form Thursday, filled them in and back for lunchtime Friday deadline! Interviews arranged with in a week and within a fortnight of getting back I was working my last week at the helpdesk. I have never forgotten the help, nor the helper, and I will forever be in her debt. For keeping it and believing I could do it!

I have mentioned before I have been here since February 2000 and next February will be 13 years! I love my post, I chartered here I have drawn it out from one thing to be a whole school thing, I am still working and is a work in progress, but that is also true of libraries, each is unique each is on-going, and I doubt any of us do this for the money!

I am now a trained Mentor, a local Line manager for the whole of the area. I am enjoying making the most of what I have and what I can do, I am currently doing online studies for supporting those I now manage and am so busy I wonder what I did in the past when my plate wasn’t so full  This was to be a quick how I got here bit but instead has become a life story! The only thing I have found for libraries is that each person is different, as is each job and each library, you can have corporate over view and can be working under the same ends but that doesn’t mean the results will match. So go and do, enjoy libraries, train and grow, see where it will take you, don’t rule out anything because you haven’t seen it done, don’t limit yourself, there are enough out there that you don’t need to do it for yourself.

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