Tuesday, 16 August 2011

How I got here and why I don't want to get out - Thing 10.

It's not that I always wanted to be a music librarian, exactly. It's just that it's a job that fits me, my skills and my interests absolutely perfectly. And it took me a little while to realise that.

Music had always taken up most of my time from when I was about 4 years old, so I don't think it was a great surprise to my parents when I decided I wanted to study Music at the University of Birmingham. Not that they thought it was the best idea I've ever had since they worried about my potential job prospects! But I loved every minute of it and decided that I wanted to go on to do a Masters in Musicology at the University of Manchester after my gap year.

I came to the end of my year at Manchester in September 2006 without having given even a second thought to what on earth I was going to do next. I sent out some speculative emails to some companies that I thought I could potentially be qualified to work for and within a week I managed to score myself a job with Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council, working part-time as a Peripatetic Music Teacher. This involved travelling round different (mainly) primary schools in the Wigan area teaching clarinet, flute, saxophone, recorders, keyboards, piano and anything else that they threw at me to children from aged 4 and up.

Now, I always had this feeling that I wasn't cut out for teaching. And I was right. I loved the kids but maintaining the kind of energy required to be a good teacher ALL day EVERY day I found almost impossible. Meanwhile, I had kept the bar job that I had while I was a student and was still working about 15 hours per week doing that. And somewhere along the line, I have no idea when, I decided that I'd really like to try and get a job in a public library.

And that's what I did. I applied for 3 library assistant jobs with Lancashire County Council, got interviewed for them all and ended up with a Saturday job in Ormskirk Library. I kept all 3 jobs but I absolutely loved the library job and knew really quickly that it was what I wanted to do.

I applied for all of the traineeships that I could find in the North of England as my fiancĂ© didn't want to move away but I didn't hear anything about them for a couple of months after I applied and assumed that I hadn't got an interview. But in the meantime we had a weekend away in Oxford and I absolutely fell in love with the place. When we got home I decided, on a whim, to have a look at what library jobs were available at the University of Oxford and I saw a job as a full-time Senior Library Assistant at the Music Faculty Library. It was totally perfect for me and I knew I HAD to apply, not believing for a second that I would even get an interview never mind get the job!

I handed in my notice at all of my other jobs and started work in Oxford in June 2007. In my first week in the job I got 3 invitations to interview for the traineeships I'd initially applied for but elected to turn them down in favour of a permanent job in the field that I knew I wanted to work in. A classic case of being in the right place at the right time, the Deputy Librarian at the Music Faculty retired just under a year after I came to the Music Faculty Library and I got the job! And 3 years and an MSc by distance learning at Northumbria later, I'm still here.

I absolutely love the job I have now. I love the variety that managing a small library gives me and I've learnt so much but know that there's so much more that I don't know. I love the interaction I get with the students, the challenges and the perks (including free tickets to concerts!). It hasn't all been plain sailing and I've had to make sacrifices for the career path I've chosen (the fiancĂ© being one of them). But, given the opportunity to live it all over again, I'd definitely make the same choices.

Chartership is kind of on my radar but I don't think I'm ready to take the plunge just yet. I've signed up to do the Introductory Certificate in Management for the next academic year instead and also the Springboard programme, which I've heard very good things about. I keep my eyes open for other job opportunities but, even though I guess my post is what you might call 'paraprofessional', I'm in no rush to move on from here any time soon. As long as I'm still learning and achieving the things I want to achieve, I'm happy :)

See? Here I am at my desk, looking happy - thumbs up to libraries!! :-)

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