A Library Destiny?

It may be that it was always my destiny to be a librarian. During my senior year of high school, when I was allowed to choose an aide position for my free period, I chose to help out Ms. Dowling in the library. Our school - in typical small-town Alaska style - included elementary and high school in the same building, so the library served all ages. 

It was well before the time of computerized record keeping, so we had an old-school card catalog. Books were checked out using the cards and pockets in the back, and part of my job was helping a second-grade class check out their books, filing the cards away, and then uniting the returned books with their filed card. If a student needed to do research, there were encyclopedias, magazines, and those good old-fashioned microfiche machines for archival materials. In addition to checking books in and out, I shelved books and did other organizational tasks. It was a quiet, orderly world, and I loved it.

And yet, when I went away to college, it never occurred to me to choose the library as a career path. I don't think I was aware that it was something you could even choose, or if library science was even offered at my university. I never checked. I was going to be a wildlife biologist, or a veterinarian. Over time, school wore me down and I lowered my sights from the demanding sciences, eventually ending up with a business management degree, nowhere near the biology field or my beloved library. So I worked in a medical office, then had a bunch (read: five) of kids and stayed home with them for a decade. And when I finally re-entered the work force, the school seemed a logical choice. After all, I was there all the time dropping kids off, picking them up, attending functions. I got a job as a part-time kindergarten aide, which eventually morphed into a full-time reading and math tutor position. 

In the meantime, I also put in a few hours helping the librarian. She was impressed by my children's literature knowledge and encouraged me to pursue an elementary librarian position. Actually, I can almost say she badgered me into it (thanks, Nikki!). In our district, a Master of Library Science is not required for the elementary positions, but a basic library science course and an intensive children's lit course are. I took those required courses, and (humble brag) I got an A+ on my final paper for children's lit. At last, I was in my element.

I applied for two positions in the school district, before I finally got the third one. The first library that didn't hire me later had its roof collapse, and the second one closed when the district had to choose a couple of schools to shut down, so obviously, I'm some sort of a witch! (We won't talk about the ice storm, clogged drain, and shower of water and ceiling panels that took out my circulation computer last December because clearly that was just an act of nature)

First day of school, my first year
Looking back to August of 2013, when I walked into the library I would be running, I immediately felt at
home. That's not to say that a lot of hard work, adjustments, and changes haven't been necessary over the decade I have worked there. I've grown myself and grown my library in many directions. But as a whole, I'd say I feel most like myself at work. I am comfortable and confident in teaching kids about libraries and literature, and putting just the right book in the right child's hands feels like my life's work. I can't imagine a more fulfilling job.

So, was it just luck that made me pick being a library aide way back when I was a seventeen year old schoolgirl? I'm not a big believer in predestination, soulmates, meant-to-be, and that sort of thing. I've always felt life proceeds based mostly on effort and chance. But I do firmly believe that, for me, I have found the most perfect role in life, as a school librarian, and I can't believe they actually pay me for it! The library is the heart of any school, and being at the living, breathing heart of this educational world feels like a dream.


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