One thing I’ve learned, since I became serious about pursuing librarianship as a career, is that occasionally when people ask you why you want to be a librarian, they’re going to expect a better answer than “because I like books”.
Liking books is a good place to start from, of course, and it is part of what drew me to libraries. But I also like food, and I’m not planning on trying to become a chef (as much fun as it is to fantasize about dropping everything in my life to move to a quaint little town somewhere and open a bakery, I’m too terrible with early mornings to ever seriously consider that. Oh, and also lacking any kind of business sense or accounting skills. That would also make that hard.).
Unfortunately, while I have more in-depth reasons for wanting to be a librarian than “because I like books”, I’m not always good at articulating them, especially if I’m put on the spot. I tend to be somewhat better at organizing my thoughts in written form, and I’ve found that writing things down can sometimes help me with articulating them in the future.
Plus, I have to start somewhere with this blog.
So, like I said: I do like books, and have liked them pretty much since I could read, and that is a factor.
Another factor is that I’ve always felt very comfortable working in a library environment. The majority of my job history is library-related, and the bits that aren’t–the time I spent working for a law firm, for example–have only served to underscore how well library work seems to suit me. I’d rather be here than in any other work environment I can think of (unless someone wants to start paying me to lounge around my apartment reading comic books and mainlining shows on Netflix Instant. If someone does want to start paying me for that, by all means, email me).
But there’s more to my career aspirations than being comfortable, and the truth is that it’s not so much that I can’t put it into words as that I worry it will sound both simplistic and self-important if I do. But it’s the truth, so here it is: I think libraries and librarians are valuable, important, wonderful things, and I want to be a part of that. Information is important. Freedom of information is important. Education is important, whether it’s at an academic institution or self-education done on one’s own time. Stories and art and other forms of expression are extremely important, and I’ll defend their importance to my last breath. Or, less dramatically, I’ll defend the importance of all of the above by working in a library.
I don’t know, yet, whether I want to focus on academic or public librarianship. If I want to stay in circulation or if I’ll end up wanting to go back to archives. If I’ll end up wanting to work more closely with fiction or nonfiction, multimedia or print, youth or adult services. I’m going to have to figure all those things out when I’m finally able to apply to an MLIS program and need to decide what courses to take.
But I know that I consider libraries vital to society, that I find the challenges faced by librarians as technology continues to advance and we have to keep up to be exciting, that when I help a patron find what they’re looking for I get a sense of satisfaction that makes all the frustration that manning the circulation desk entails seem worth it. I know that I believe in and love what libraries are and what they do, and that I have the aptitude and the desire to be a part of that, to contribute to it, and that I would rather do that than any other job I can think of.
So that’s why I want to be a librarian.
Now I just need to work on saying it.