OK, so here are my roots and routes, as part of The Library Routes Project – which is an exceedingly interesting idea.
I was a vociferous reader throughout my early childhood, and went through many career plans as most kids do, ranging from doctor and vet, to teacher, to prime minister. The older I got, the less sure I was of what I wanted to do, so when I picked my A levels I just went for mainstream subjects that I enjoyed. I was vaguely thinking about becoming an English teacher, so in 2000 I went off to the University of Essex to study Philosophy and Literature – I’m still one of their student profiles.
Three years later, , still thinking about teaching, I applied to do a PGCE, but I interviewed badly and didn’t get a place on my first choice course, and got cold feet about the others. I figured I’d work for a year, get some savings, and work out what to do next. I was vaguely hunting online for any sort of graduate job connected with education, and came across the Graduate Training Library Assistant vacancies at Royal Holloway, University of London. My year working as a general dogsbody there was enough to convince me that I liked working in libraries, and I went from there on to a MA in Library and Information Studies at UCL. I really enjoyed my year here, but my favourite module was Lucy Gildersleeve’s unit on services to children and young people, so I decided that was where I wanted to go next.
I was lucky to get my first professional position as a children’s librarian for Croydon Libraries, where I stayed for 3 years whilst moving branches a few times. During this time I managed to get myself chartered (not that I got a payrise out of it, but I do think it helped me in terms of professional development).
At this point I decided I wanted a change. I hadn’t had a year out before or after uni, so I decided I wanted to try and do some volunteering abroad, ideally as some sort of a librarian. After a lot of hunting online, I got a place as volunteer librarian at Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos’ main children’s home in Morelos, Mexico. I worked there for one year (June 08 – July 09). It was probably the hardest year of my life to date, in oh-so-many ways, but I think the children really came to enjoy their time in the library, and I picked up more-or-less-fluent-but-not-grammatically-ideal Spanish, which is one of my proudest achievements. The home did amazing work and I was so glad to have spent a year there – if you’re interested in the idea of working abroad get in touch and I’ll answer any questions you have.
After that year, I had no intention of doing anything other than coming straight back to the UK. But then in April 09 I came across an advert for a librarian at a British international school in Bangkok. It just looked to good to ignore, and so that is where I ended up in August 2009. I am really glad I’m out here – I’m working in conditions that you wouldn’t get in any school in the UK right now (for a start I have 4 assistants, 2 of which are trained librarians, and all in a school of 1400… the library budget is also pretty good :-) ).
I won’t stay out here forever, and am finding blogs/twitter a really helpful way to stay in touch with developments in the library profession back home (you can find me on twitter @angellibrarian). But I do think I’d be happy to stay in the field of children’s librarianship in the long-term. One thing I would love to do in the future is go back to uni and do a Phd. That’s the dream right now – but who knows what’s around the corner?