How I became a librarian and found job satisfaction

As part of today’s Bodleian Libraries’ Personal Development and Career Planning Day, Kerry Webb [Deputy Librarian at the English Faculty Library] and I co-presented a session entitled “How I became a librarian and found job satisfaction”.  This is a summary of my section of the presentation.

I began with a brief outline of my career path so far:

September 1996 – June 1999 B. Sc. (Hons) Physiological Sciences, Newcastle University; September 1999 – June 2000 PGCE Secondary Science (Biology), Northumbria University; September 2000 – August 2005 Teaching; September 2005 – August 2006 MA Information & Library Management, Northumbria University; September 2005 – August 2006 Information Officer, Northumbria University Library; August 2006 – November 2007 Assistant Librarian, St Clare’s (Oxford); November 2007 – May 2009 Electronic Resources Senior Assistant, OULS*; May 2009 – March 2010 Deputy Manager of Staff Development, OULS; March 2010 - present Librarian, St Hugh’s College (Oxford)

*OULS = Oxford University Library Services, now Bodleian Libraries

Job satisfaction in my current role

  • Getting things well-organised
  • Being creative in use of space, ideas for new collections
  • Using technology to make things better: RFID, combined copier/scanner/printer with card swipe
  • Project management: combining short, medium and long-term projects so that essentials get done and non-urgent tasks are still progressing, and crises are avoided
  • Learning to be a good manager
  • Classification geek

Making the most of your current role

  • Do your job well!  Add value to the tasks you already do
  • Especially if you are aiming for a grade increase at your next job, expect to work above your current job description
  • Volunteer to take part in committees and special projects (for example, I organised 23 Things Oxford and the All Libraries Pub Quiz outside of work)

Think about future jobs

  • What are you interested in?  What are you good at?  NB: these may not be the same!
  • Keep an eye out for job adverts and see how your skills match up.  Identify any areas you need to improve on
  • Approach skills gaps in a variety of ways – use experience from your personal life (sports captain, choir treasurer, managing a family, secretary for a CILIP group.  Use the appraisal system to ask for training (some may benefit you in your existing job, such as IT skills)
  • Be open-minded about jobs you would consider.  Not all jobs are sexy, but you can learn a lot from any job you do

Some all-round good ideas

  • Be prepared to move around to develop your career.  There’s a big world outside beyond Oxford
  • Consider Chartership – not much recognised at Oxford, may well be an advantage elsewhere
  • Take responsibility for your own professional development: reading, meeting people, reflecting on your current role.  Tools I use include RSS feeds and Twitter.  Meeting people outside your department/sector is invaluable

And a final thought (attributed to Thomas Edison)

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Events: attending, presenting at and organising « Laura's Dark Archive

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