My Librarian Origin Story

by Amanda Viana, Head Editor, INALJ Massachusetts

My Librarian Origin Story

Amanda VianaSomething I’ve discovered over the past five years or so is that every librarian has an origin story. They range wildly from the most deliberate to the almost accidental, and each of them is as unique as we are. I’ve just taken two major steps in my career, and it’s got me thinking about how I got here. So here it is: my librarian origin story.

I have always wanted to be a librarian, for as far back as I can remember. It wasn’t until I got into my MLIS program that I realized how unusual this is. I remember sitting in one of my very first classes as we went around the room introducing ourselves. It was Collection Development (a required course) and we were an incredibly diverse group. From recent college grads to retirees from the private sector, everyone seemed to have different reasons for being in the program. Even the professor remarked in surprise when I admitted that librarianship has always been my aspiration.

When I was old enough, around 12, I started volunteering for the Summer Reading Program with the Children’s Librarian in my hometown. I’d spend a few hours a day straightening books or cutting out paper animals and leave with an armful of books. I did this every summer until about a month before I turned 16 when a page position opened up. I worked part-time through high school and college, gaining immeasurable customer service and library experience. And in a remarkable twist of fate that I still thank my lucky stars for, a full-time position opened up a month after I graduated from college. For two years I was a full-time Library Assistant prior to beginning library school. Over time my level of involvement and responsibility increased and I was given many opportunities to contribute and learn. I stayed at my hometown library until I finished my MLIS; a few months later I was hired for my current position as an Information Services Librarian. I owe it all to the work I was able to do and the different roles I was able to play over the past 15 years. It’s a Librarian Cinderella story.

Last month I ran unopposed for an open seat on the Board of Library Trustees in my hometown. Being able to contribute in another way to the library that is in so many ways my home makes me happy beyond measure. And just this week I was informed that the Board of Library Trustees at my new library voted to assign me the duties of the Assistant Director.

So here I am, serving the library from many different angles, living my childhood dream, answering my calling—I’m here, and I’m a Librarian.

What’s your origin story?

  4 comments for “My Librarian Origin Story

  1. June 21, 2013 at 9:07 am

    thanks to ‏@sallyheroes for tweeting this list of New Zealand and Australian librarian origin stories! http://findingheroes.co.nz/category/path-to-librarianship/

  2. June 20, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    My mother is a school librarian (now a school district cataloger), and I would often help her out over summers with bulletin boards and other projects. I went into teaching because I loved picking apart literature and using literature as a diving board into broader discussions, and I wanted to do that with teens. But right after graduating, I enrolled in courses for my school library media certificate. After a year of teaching, I got frustrated with the bureaucratic arms of the school system and took a job at the local public library.

    I loved it.

    It didn’t take my long to decide to stop taking courses toward the certificate and start researching graduate schools. I felt so blessed to be able to directly apply what I was learning in school to what I was doing at the reference desk. I relished the “Nancy Drew” moments when I had to track down an answer for someone, and I adored the challenges that came with implementing new services and technology or solving problems. I’ve got one more class to go (my portfolio) this fall, and then I’ll be finished with my MLIS at San Jose State.

  3. June 20, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    I resisted becoming a librarian, in spite of enjoying my student aide job, and in college wanted to join the State Department. Unfortunately, that was the time that President Carter put a recruitment freeze into place: no one could even take the placement test, let alone be hired. So I went to library school and that is the rest of the story.

  4. June 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I always loved libraries and used them quite extensively growing up. I remember telling the Trak recruiter who recruited me as a temp for offices about my love of libraries and next thing I knew they placed me in a term position, and voila, my path was set :)

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