Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why are you a librarian, Robin?

Back when I was a freshman at Hope International University (then Pacific Christian College), I took the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory that all freshmen were given. (Nowadays incoming students take the Strengths Finder.) I remember that the results were so outrageous that I dismissed the whole thing. The two top careers recommended for me were librarian and funeral home director. Really? An 18-year-old does not accept such news well.

I actually rarely set foot in the library when I was a student. It was overwhelming. I felt the same about big bookstores.

I majored in Social Science with an emphasis in Social Work. After graduating I decided to go into teaching Secondary Social Sciences and taught History, Government, and Economics at the high school level. When my husband and I moved to East Tennessee for him to attend seminary, I worked in Social Work until government funding ran out. After 4 months of unemployment, I took an entry level job in the library at Emmanuel School of Religion (now Emmanuel Christian Seminary). It turns out that I liked it and was good at it. I found that I used my education, training, and experience in Education and Social Work in my new job.

In Social Work, I was trained in interviewing skills in three areas: juvenile justice, mental health, and social services case work. In Education, I learned about learning styles, instructional design, and pedagogy. Eventually, I learned that Library Science fits in with the Social Sciences and that librarianship is a helping profession. A good fit for me after all.

As a librarian, I have empathy for students like myself. I also have an appreciation for the studious students like my husband who actually kept a pillow to the library while he was working on his thesis so he could take naps in his carrel without having to leave! I like to think that the library can meet the information and research needs of both ends and all along the continuum.

Why be a librarian?
If they said yes to all three, then I told them they would love being a librarian. Of course, this is not an exhaustive Interest Inventory, but the point is that you don’t have to love books to be a librarian. You don’t have to have a literature degree or even be an introvert.

Being a librarian – or any information professional – at this time in history is very interesting, challenging, and even exciting. Regardless of the information media format – print or digital, on ground or online – the library’s mission, principles, values, and goals are the same. More than that, libraries continue to be the center of the academic community and librarians have a unique role in support of the educational process. Equipping our students to be information literate lifelong learners for the cause of Hope’s institutional mission means I make a difference.

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