I have blogged about how I became a librarian after years of wanting to be anything but a librarian a long time ago, but I don’t think I have written about my first library job in detail. So following in the great tradition of a meme..
I answered a job ad in The Age newspaper, advertising for casual and full time positions at the City of Monash. I was sending resumes and letters everywhere after having graduated a couple of months earlier and wondering how long I was going to stay at Myer.
I remember driving out to Glen Waverley in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, mentally rehearsing the words I would say in the interview, but I honestly did not have a clue as to the types of questions they would ask. I knew there were a range of positions available, both permanent full time, temporary and casual librarians and library officers, and that was about it. I knew more about academic libraries, having done my practicum at a uni library, and it had been ages since I had stepped into a public library.
I remember being asked if I was available for a casual position. I was completely honest and guilelessly told the interview panel that having to relocate from Geelong to Melbourne would mean I would be looking for a full time job (what was I thinking???). My chutzpah got me a job as a maternity leave replacement, full time, working at the Glen Waverley branch at Monash Public Library. as an adult librarian.
I did reference desk shifts, helped maintain a clippings drawer, shelf-read, was involved with book selection and weeding. The librarians had a strong focus on collection development and management rather than managing staff. I was really lucky in working with librarians who were more experienced and library officers who took me under their wing.
I learned a lot on the job- my Dewey was drummed into me, my ability to weed and discard books and to select books for the collection. I also found myself drawing upon customer service skills learned from over 6 Christmases at Myer- my manager later telling me it was what helped me get the job!
Within a year I had moved to another branch and was involved in the outreach program which included book selection for housebound residents. My knowledge of fiction was sorely tested and I embarked on another steep learning curve!
After that first year I had another interview and was confirmed as a permanent staff member-yay! I stayed at Monash for five years, managing Reference, Adult and Local History collections, teaching internet classes to adults, organising events and book talks and somehow avoiding preschool story time.
1. Draw upon ALL your skills- I had no library experience, but years of asking people what they wanted and helping them find it (and buy it). It also helped with dispute management and managing unruly queues for the internet.
2. Ask questions if you don’t know something. As a newbie you can.
3. If you make a suggestion about something being done, chances are you will the one who ends up doing it.
4. Volunteer to do stuff- you learn something along the way.
5. If someone knocks at the back door, open it. You never know who you might meet- maybe even your future husband :).