Thing #20: The Library Routes Project

I started working in libraries by accident.  It was never a career that had crossed my mind.  I grew up in a small town that didn’t have a library, so I never spent much time at the library.  I wanted to be an elementary teacher.  After college, I moved to Aurora, Colorado.  I worked as a paraprofessional for Denver Public Schools for a year, then began applying for teaching  jobs.  I sent out dozens of applications with very little response.  Feeling defeated, I started looking for other jobs.  I saw an opening at the public library and applied there as a backup.  I finally landed an interview for a 3rd grade teaching position.  The same day, I was called to interview for the library assistant position.  I interviewed at the school one day, the library the next.  A day later, I was offered the library job.  (I was later informed that they chose someone with experience for the teaching job.)

As I learned the library assistant job, I realized that it had the fun parts of teaching (helping people, research, teaching classes) without the bad parts of teaching (politics, standardized tests, angry parents, disciplining a classroom of 35+ kids).  I worked there for almost two years before I moved to a new city and a new job.  As an assistant librarian in the young adult department of a suburban library, I discovered my passion for programming, outreach, and marketing, as well as working with teens.

I moved back to my home state of Nebraska after almost three years working in YA.  From 2009 to 2010, I worked on my MLS online through Clarion University.  I graduated last December.  For a year and a half, I worked part-time library assistant for Lincoln City Libraries.  Working at a branch library means doing a little bit of everything.  A couple months ago, there was some “staff restructuring” that created additional hours for library assistants.  I interviewed and was approved for an additional 20 hours.  I was able to quit my second job and now am working full-time at the library!

As another part of the restructuring, all of the library assistants were given extra duties.  I am now a substitute storyteller.  If someone is sick, on vacation, or at an outreach event, I fill in to do Toddler Time or story time.  I am still getting comfortable and establishing my style, but it has been a lot of fun so far.

Reading through some of the entries in the Library Routes Project, I realized that librarianship is not the original career choice for a lot of people.  Many of them enjoyed going to the library or worked in a library when they were younger but did not consider it as a career until later in life.  Also, it seems like budget cuts, difficulty finding a job, or staff reduction has led people down paths within the library world that were not part of the original plan.  I’ve enjoyed reading about how people got to be where they are today.  I hope to continue along my library route and encounter new projects and challenges.


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