A part of me has known I wanted to be a librarian since before I can remember. It was not until I was sixteen that I consciously knew this was something I would do. By the time I was in the throes that go along with graduating from college with a Bachelor’s degree, I was unsure if I would be able to move along with my plan to become a librarian as quickly as I would like. I was encouraged to apply to San José State University’s iSchool program anyway and so, thus convinced that if I determined the logistics made it unfeasible to follow through I would delay my blueprint for a future in librarianship, I applied. Now, two years later, I am on the cusp of completing my Master’s in Library and Information Science while seeking opportunities to make my lifelong aspirations a reality.
My trepidation continued as I began my studies with the iSchool in Fall 2014. I had held to the idea that I wanted only to work in youth services and, like many students who ever had to complete any requirements they did not see as aligning perfectly with their specific interests, was somewhat disheartened at the prerequisite courses I was thrown into. I quickly learned, however, that these courses not only set a foundation for the learning I would accomplish in the following four semesters, but open my eyes, ears, and heart to non-youth services prospects I had not previously considered. I was especially captivated by Dr. Michael Stephen’s guest lectures in Professor Steve Tash’s Information Communities (previously LIBR 200) class. I began looking at Library and Information Science in a completely new way, largely thanks to Dr. Stephen’s lectures, though certainly with influence from other discussions and courses, too.
The first semester emboldened me to try subjects I might not otherwise have attempted. Doing so provided me with a well-rounded education in Library and Information Science and increased my viability as a future job candidate. Additionally, although many individuals in society – both those in- and outside of the Library and Information Science community – may look down upon online education, I found that, after sixteen or more years in a traditional classroom setting, taking courses online proved my dedication to education, self-improvement, self-directedness, self-motivation, and self-sufficiency in ways that a traditional classroom experience could not. These qualities were not only proven throughout my time with the iSchool, but further developed. I fully intend to take advantage of this unique undertaking and its implications.
Also with the encouragement and generosity of the iSchool and the American Library Association, I was able to join professional organizations to expand my professional network and take part in development opportunities. Though I have yet to attend an American Library Association conference or other event, I’ve significantly enjoyed receiving email newsletters and American Libraries in print, both of which have helped to broaden my understanding of current trends in the field and raised my awareness of “big names.” I complemented my membership in the American Library Association with memberships in the Virginia Library Association and D. C. Library Association. Both have given me opportunities to become more involved in the more local scene. I was fortunate to be honored with the annual Virginia Library Association Scholarship in Fall 2015, which came also with the chance to attend the annual conference. Both for my own development and to give back in the spirit in which the Virginia Library Association gave to me, I hope to continue my membership with all of these organizations and begin membership in others while becoming more actively involved.
But what was all this for (aside from a genuine love in learning) if not to obtain a career in libraries? With my MLIS, I plan to move full time into a public library. Having worked full time in a special government library in a small technical services team, I have learned an enormous amount about this particular environment and the duties therein. I have also in this time, however, had the ability to work in two neighboring public library systems. The variety in the latter environments along with the regular public interaction has greatly affirmed my belief that I belong, ultimately, in a public library. I am immensely grateful for the unique experiences I gained in the small government library and am certain those experiences will serve to make me the best librarian I can be in a public library setting despite their differences.
For the time being, I will continue gathering experiences and applying to full time public library positions and getting involved in local and national professional organizations until I am able to move into such a position which best utilizes the skills I’ve gained in my work and educational experiences. As the iSchool has so opened my eyes to possibilities beyond youth services, I am no longer tied to the idea of being a Young Adult Librarian as I was originally. Although I would still absolutely welcome that opportunity, I am equally open to Adult and Senior Services. I have yet to seriously consider work that is more behind-the-scenes such as managing outreach or coordinating services for homebound patrons, but have not ruled such positions out at this point. I am committed to working with the public in some fashion, though would entertain less public-facing opportunities in collection development or cataloging in the distant future. In brief, my professional plan moving forward is to be open, to apply for anything that interests me remotely (being well aware that job descriptions are not all-encompassing for any given position), and to continue learning and growing no matter what position I may find myself in.
I’d like to take a moment to give my heartfelt thanks to my classmates, classmates-turned-friends, professors, and staff at San José State University. I am equally grateful to Hollins University, from which I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in English in May 2014 – thank you, to the wonderful institution that is Hollins University, my mentors, professors, friends, acquaintances, staff, and supervisors who made my time at Hollins not only enjoyable in and of itself, but as the best preparative experience for graduate school. I give my special thanks to my best friend, Meg Lenherr, for being a constant pillar of support; my partner, Tommy Shen, for pushing me to be here in the first place and putting up with unending philosophical waxing on Library and Information Science (and, yes, for doing the dishes because this or that project wasn’t quite finished yet – I owe you!); and to my parents, Mark and Rosemary Hargreaves, who made me a reader in the first place and gave me the environment and support to always ask questions (a trait I believe crucial to any good information professional). This paragraph of thanks doesn’t even begin to cover how grateful I am for you all and all you’ve done to get me to this point. All I can say is this: thank you – and you have my library/information science/research skills at your disposal anytime. Just come find me in the library stacks.