Thing 2: Why / how did I become a librarian?

4361After seventeen years of solid English education, at which I had toiled relentlessly: upon my disengagement of the entire affair, I could only draw the comparison of my educational career with that of a dog fetching a ball. I had carried it out with such unquestionable zeal, such unconditional devotion and my efforts had been so acutely concentrated on that one, really rather short term eventuality, that inevitably once this goal had been met, I felt quite disorientated; apprehensive to admit that the game was over and happier to blindly continue. For what is a dog without it’s ball? Only then did my narrow perception widen its circumference enough to illuminate the bigger picture. What had all along seemed so certain and definitive, paled into insignificance as the dreaded question loomed of “What Next”?

I had wanted to be a journalist but had recently conceded that the profession, in most respects was really quite a barbarous one and I found myself asking if I really wanted to be expected to thrust misery on the lives of others as my occupation. (I hope not to offend too many people here). And then there was the constant passion of my life which was writing but my desire for a wage and a stable living ruled this out instantly.

Obviously then I got myself to the first “Graduate Recruitment Day” I could find and within a few days of graduation, after some shameless yet necessary flattery from the vultures at BT in the form of a brand new shiny ford focus and the obligatory business cards with my name on: “Jordan Murphy – Sales Executive” (*Should have read “Jordan Murphy- Fresh faced arts graduate with no idea”*) I was thrown to the wolves and subject to three of the worst months of my life.

After quickly realising that I no longer wanted to trick small businesses into spending their budgets on mediocre websites I picked myself up, brushed myself down and headed toward horrendous job number two. I add at this point that my partner lived in London and I in Yorkshire but neither one of us had enough money for a deposit. I moved in with his parents in London. I worked as a secretary in a high end estate agents in the City. I’m not sure which, of these two decisions was worse. My boss was repelled by “Women in flat shoes”, misogyny was rife in the office.  Paul’s parents were absolutely wonderful and were far too polite and kind to mention it but were probably past the point where living with their thirty-three year old son and his girlfriend was ever going to be a good idea. My circumstances were all wrong: I had to get out of there and find a career that I actually wanted!

I made the difficult decision to leave London, move back in with my parents, save some cash and do some voluntary work in a profession I enjoyed to get my foot on the ladder. Despite what you may think, University graduates like myself made up a surplus which massively outweighed the employment opportunities. This was harder than I thought.

The feeling of desolation and despair which had gradually crept over me in London was immediately banished as soon as the mandatory conversation with my ever supportive parents, (in which I indulged in my miseries and they obligingly listened) happened. They assured me that I hadn’t “ruined my life”, that it was OK to have tried at something and failed (a word at which I winced). It was at this point that my mum said “What about working in Libraries?”, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before!

We had a family friend who had done her qualification and held a senior role in a college library and after speaking to her, all doubt was eliminated. It was my perfect job. I was working in a restaurant but managed to squeeze in a weekly voluntary session at the local library cataloguing some old pamphlets and local history materials in order to make them available to the public. I was in my element!

I applied to various graduate traineeships and was lucky enough to be offered a place at what I considered to be the most 4364prestigious of them all – The London Library. It was an independent library, originally founded by Thomas Carlisle and funded by membership fees, governed by the members themselves. It was a literary haven in which I romantically envisioned the great English writers of the Victorian period making history. It boasted members in the past like George Eliot (my favourite writer in the history of time!), Charles Darwin and Virginia Woolf. During my traineeship, I worked in the member services department, inter-library loans, acquisitions and conservation. There were relics on every shelf that had probably brushed the hands of some of the greatest brains of our time!

I was finally re-enthused; I went to seminars, and networking events and chased countless librarians online, hungry to hear about their different experiences in different careers. I developed an interest in less traditional librarianship too and shadowed a “KIM” co-ordinator for four weeks. I was approached earlier this year by Glen Recruitment who wanted to know if I’d be interested in attending an interview for an “Information assistant” role in a City Law firm. After battling with the sinful feeling of duplicity, I went and was offered the job.

It seemed a shame to leave my graduate traineeship early but I was hungry for more experience in a different sphere. I took the job. I’ve been at Clyde and Co for around four months now and although it was a hard decision to make to leave the London Library a little earlier than my contract stipulated, I’m really glad I’ve had the opportunity to work in such a different environment.

Our department is a team of eight who manage the information services for an international Law firm. We provide an enquiry service and deliver large quantities of current awareness to the firm. The work I do is varied and I have recently been trained up on the enquiry desk and have had my first session which was daunting and intense but really quite exhilarating too. I have applied to study “Information Management” at Robert Gordon University and begin my part time, distance learning course in September. I’m so excited to embark on a learning curve which will be so directly correlated to my vocation.

4060Now I know what is involved in library and information work I feel silly for not recognising, prior to now, that a job which involves fostering maximum efficiency in the organisation and retrieval of information was what I was destined to do. I look back on my days of playing as a child; my young counterparts would play at “teachers”, shouting at pupils, I would organise the class’s names into alphabetical lists, where they would fry plastic eggs in plastic pans, I would organise the   cupboards. Though more thrilling destinies have been told; this was mine!

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