Monday, 17 August 2015

I was the only one who was surprised...

I didn't want to be a librarian. I wanted to be a writer. So how did I end up here?

Like most people who did Arts in the late 1990's, it was assumed that I'd be a teacher. Maybe it's still the same. Except I had no intention of being a teacher. Research and homework and children... oh my. So there I was, muddling my way through an Arts Degree and suddenly it was my final year and we were expected to know what we wanted to do next. 

I wandered into the Career's Day exhibition and in the middle of all the stands there was a lady sitting under a sign that said 'Library.' Library! Why had I never thought of that? I took a deep breath and went to speak to her. Frankly, I think she was just glad that someone came over. She told me all about what I had to do next - more study!- and how to go about getting experience. I rushed home and told everyone that I wanted to be a librarian. No-one was surprised. I'd had a life-changing epiphany and no-one was surprised. After all, I was the one who spent my childhood reading Enid Blyton and Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, who stole all my mother's Maeve Binchy books when I was supposed to be doing my Junior Cert. Who swapped the 99p Penguin classics with friends in school when most teenagers were out discovering life and love. 

So from there I shelved books in the college library after lectures and then found a public library who gave me a year's experience before I did my MLIS. They even took me back afterwards. I've worked in small branches and big ones, on my own and with others. I've been the one who tidied the books and the one who bought them. The one who set out chairs for events and the one who organised them. The library has changed a lot in the fourteen years I've been working there and some days we sigh wistfully and say "remember when we used to just deal with books?" Usually after printing out Ryanair boarding passes for people all day long, making tea for groups and checking if the cleaners are doing a better job with the bathrooms. But working with teachers and children, with senior citizens and community groups, with artists and authors makes us part of the life of a town. It gives us a purpose. 

I'd still like to be a writer. I even have a plan - I'll retire after my third novel is published. I just haven't written the first one yet. I'm too busy being a librarian.