“We cannot have good libraries until we first have good librarians — properly educated, professionally recognized, and fairly rewarded.” — Herbert S. White
I’m beginning graduate school orientation Wednesday. I begin school on Thursday. I’m extremely excited to begin my education to be a librarian, but a lot of people don’t understand why I’m going to school just to check in and out items. Or to do storytime for four-year-olds. Here is my opportunity to clarify just what I am doing.
1. I actually need a Masters degree to get a job. It’s not just for show, I actually have things to learn before I can become a full-fledged librarian. It is important to understand your patrons, to learn how to best provide information to them, and to learn how to be efficient. I’m looking forward to taking classes on organizing information and information literacy. I’m still not exactly sure what I will end up specializing in, but I’m sure I’ll be an academic librarian of some form. Maybe a medical librarian. That way I can help out my med school friends.
2. Librarianship is about 100 things rolled into one. It’s not just answering reference questions or creating online databases, it’s everything under the sun that I’ll be learning over the next two years and doing for the rest of my career. I need to use Google on a regular basis. I need to be able to troubleshoot computer/printer/copier errors. I need to be able to have the eyes to find missing books on the wrong shelves. I need to enter items into databases for reserves, for the general catalog, and onto OCLC. I need to be the king of all trades — even shitty librarians can be the jack of all trades. I’m set out to be the best.
3. The Dewey Decimal system is for public libraries. I use Library of Congress now, fools. I know that it’s easy to remember that 920′s are biographies, 262′s are about religion, 641.5′s are cookbooks, and 743′s are sports, but collegians are smarter. They can use letters and numbers interchangeably. However cute the book Dewey is, it is set in a public library. If I had to name a library pet now, I’d be much more creative.
4. It is worth it financially to get my degree. I’m a special case, but I won’t have to pay for graduate school. So it makes sense for me to be going to school for two years and deferring my student loans. I will gain interest, but I won’t have to worry about paying those babies off or adding more to them. It’ll also allow me to make a bit more money after graduating, especially if I go on to get another Masters to become even more of a specialized librarian.
5. I love my future career. Yes, I wear thick black-framed glasses. Yes, I think it’s much easier to go out of the house without makeup and my hair pulled back. Yes, I love to read cheesy chick-lit novels. But it’s nothing about the stereotypes that draw me into librarianship. I really enjoy assisting people. And the information-loving, extremely competitive part of me is drawn to answering reference questions and finding obscure information for patrons. I also enjoy the beauty of organizing things, whether it be cataloging books, or filing away articles as I do now, it’s all something so fantastic to me. It’s such a nerd-filled profession, but I’m proud to be a nerd.