I thought I’d write my first post here about how I became a school librarian. It seems like every school librarian I know or encounter has a different path that led them to it. For me, the path was a little winding, but looking back, Google Maps couldn’t have taken me a better way.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to read. My parents restricted me on movies and television shows that I was allowed to watch, but they never restricted me on what I could and could not read. I never knew how to get anywhere, because I was always reading a book whenever we got in the car. My parents would also punish me by taking away my books. HA!
We didn’t go to the public library very much, but my parents would usually buy me at least one book whenever we went to the mall (which was often, as my mom liked to shop!), and I would usually go to the mall bookstores of yore, B. Dalton and Waldenbooks, to look around while my mom shopped. I also rarely went to my school library in middle and high school unless I went for something specific in mind. After elementary school, we never went to the library as a class unless it was specifically for a research project, so the library was never really on my radar growing up.
Fast forward to college. I was student teaching at a middle school in Nashville, where I started talking one day to the school’s new librarian. She was still finishing up her degree in school media, but had been hired as a school librarian on a waiver. Somehow, we got to talking about it and that was the first time I heard about the Master’s degree in library science. Yes, I was one of those people long ago that asked incredulously, “There’s a degree for THAT?!” She talked up all of the advantages and things you could do with a library science degree, and I listened, fascinated. I never thought of this! I think I just assumed the school librarians just volunteered at the libraries and just never left, LOL.
Even though I was intrigued, I was pretty burnt out on school at that point, and wanted to take a break from classes, papers, studying, etc. So, I instead looked for employment while still trying to find a career that I thought I would enjoy. I worked for my dad, worked at the Tennessee General Assembly for a while, and even attempted law school for year before quickly realizing THAT was not the path for me. Throughout all of this trying to find my bliss, becoming a librarian remained in the back of my head. I finally felt the pull of librarianship and felt ready to do school again. So, in 2003 I applied at the University of Tennessee for the Master’s program in Information Science (or Library Science, or Library and Information Science, or whatever your school or program calls it). I received my acceptance on my 28th birthday!
I graduated from UT Knoxville a year later in August of 2004, but I did not pursue the school media library route. I originally thought I wanted to be a corporate/business librarian, but those positions are pretty rare. I worked part-time as a circulation clerk at a public library while looking for a full-time position. I was hired for my first “real” librarian job at the Spring Hill Public Library in Spring Hill, TN, which is just south of Nashville. As the head librarian, I did many things and wore many hats. I trained paraprofessionals, planned programs, cataloged, started a graphic novel and DVD collection, started and ran a teen book club, ordered books (my favorite!), went to meetings, and more! While I loved working there, I was starting to feel ready to move on to something else.
I was reading some school-based books at the time, and it was making me think of that middle school librarian in Nashville and getting back into the schools. A colleague told me that MTSU in Murfreesboro had a school media program, and that it was online, so I applied there to obtain my school media certification. Since I already had an education degree and a library degree, I only needed to take about six classes, plus the two practicums (an abbreviated version of student teaching for those that already have an education degree and have student taught before), and enrolled at MTSU as a non-degree seeking student. I took the classes while working full-time.
While doing the elementary rotation of my practicum, I was told of a middle school librarian position that was still available, even though we were about four weeks into the school year already. I didn’t think I stood a chance since I didn’t have my school media certification yet, but my supervising librarian encouraged me, and I thought I would at least get my name out there since this was in the school district I wanted to work in. Lo and behold, the principal called me that afternoon and offered me the job! I was so excited! I started a couple of weeks later after I finished my elementary practicum, and I’ve been in this wonderful position ever since. Ten years! I still can’t believe I’ve been here this long and have no desire to be anywhere else. I am truly living the dream with a supportive administration, collaborative faculty, a gem of an assistant, amazing district librarians who push me to better myself as a librarian every day, and most importantly, terrific students who are the reason I come to work. Fairy tales can come true!
I told you it was a long and winding road.
If you’re a librarian, how did you get there?