Thing 10 – routes into librarianship

As may be obvious I’ve been slightly slipping with CPD23, I choose to blame this on job hunting, I had been writing blog posts in my lunch break, now I write job applications instead, but I’m going to try really hard to at least come close to catching up. Sadly, this weeks thing feels just a little close to home.

I did a degree in English, came out of university and had no idea what I wanted to do next, only knowing I hadn’t got myself in gear about doing an MA due to a fun mix of personal issues and no money. So, I worked a minimum wage retail job for a while, and quickly worked out that wasn’t what I wanted to do, in fact I ended up having to move home because I could only just afford to pay rent. People have always been saying to me I should be a librarian, I even did my school work experience in a library, but it took a while to click ,and then to work out there was no way I’d get a job without experience, so I emailed all the libraries in Sussex asking to volunteer, and the University of Sussex let me. This totally changed things, I worked there for nearly a year, learning so much, and becoming certain that librarianship was for me. I also stumbled upon information about graduate traineeships and started applying, just when I’d started to give up on getting in that year’s round I got an interview at the National Art Library, and then got the job.

This year has been amazing, I’ve learnt loads, met lots of other lovely trainees, been to both my first conference and my first unconference (unconferences are much, much better), and become perhaps worryingly single-minded in my pursuit of a library career. However, money is still an issue, though I want to do the masters I’ve had to accept I’m not in the position to do so without putting myself into lots of debt, so with just over 5 weeks left at work I have no idea what I’ll be doing once I leave.

I’ve been applying for jobs since May, I have two years good experience in two different types of library, so far I’ve has two unsuccessful interviews and I’m seriously looking at going back to a minimum wage retail job so I’m not made homeless. The chartership and certification sections of this thing are too depressing to even look at, all I can so far tell about my route to librarianship is that it may be traditional but it is also going to be slow, possibly another two years before I even start the MA part-time. I’m sure I’m not the first person to have had issues with the MA’s cost, or to have struggled to get a job despite good experience, in fact I know I’m not, but at the moment I can’t think about wanting to be a librarian,. I have to focus on trying to be a library assistant rather than working in a shop.

Next time – a less depressing post. Have an adorable baby lizard picture:

Image from

New Professional

The title of this post is a little misleading, because I’m not technically a professional yet, as a graduate library trainee I’m a paraprofessional. Still, it’s close enough, and I am a member of the LIS New Professionals Network, something that has already led to one meet-up and has made me feel a lot more like I’m part of a community rather than a there just being all these disparate libraries full of interesting people I’ll never talk to. The meet-up was on monday, and was made up of mostly graduate trainees, it was really nice to just chat about libraries and funding and MA’s. Library conversations can get depressing, I have no money for my MA and there might not be any jobs once I’ve done it anyway, but we managed to keep it lighthearted. The most useful thing was hearing what tasks other graduate trainees do, and how their libraries work, it helped me put what I’ve been learning into a context.

I’ve been at the National Art Library since September, at least a quarter of my year here, and I had been beginning to panic about what I’ll do once¬† leave. Knowing when I finish is security in one way, but I’m the sort of person who likes to plan ahead and I worry about stuff that won’t happen for months or even years, like paying off loans and finding another job. Luckily, I am beginning to realise just how much valuable experience I’ve gained, and how much I can do. I have a list of all the things I’ve been taught, such as checking in periodicals or making information file records, and it just keeps getting longer.

I’m so ambivalent about the library MA at the moment. I want to do it so much, hearing about people getting their interviews makes me kind of jealous, but I can’t see how I will get the money together in time. I suppose it is better to apply and not have the money than not apply and then have the money, but it will be heartbreaking to have to turn down a place because I can’t pay for it. I’m going to start my applications next week, and just see where I go, but it has got to the point where I’m playing the lottery, and considering taking out a loan, something I really don’t want to have to do.

One of the reasons I can’t give up on doing and MA is the fact I don’t want to have to leave libraries, I really don’t want to find myself working in retail for another two years to save the tuition fees because I can’t get a library job, especially when I’m beginning to feel part of a community. On saturday I’m going to Library Camp Brunel, after reading lots of posts about how good the original Library Camp was, I’m really excited about it, and it’s the sort of experience I don’t want to lose out on.


It’s back to blog post with song titles! Play spot-the-obscure-song with me, actually, this is not so obscure, but I was listening to Operation Ivy this morning and it seems appropriate to my mood.

I’ve been being very good recently and have been reading more non-fiction. I find it far too easy to just read Warhammer novels and other light stuff, but I’ve been trying to challenge myself a bit more. I’ve recently been really enjoying Fringe, and I’ve just started watching Dollhouse, they both have a lot more obvious science elements than my usual TV fare does so I’ve been supporting them by starting to read science books, an odd thing for a literature graduate. I’m struggling through The Science of Discworld, which I am enjoying when I can understand it. I like the bits about space a lot though, that was always my favourite bit in physics at school. The chemistry bits are less good. I will try to read the follow-up books, but slowly. My next thing is to try to read A Brief History of Time, intimidating as that is.

Other good things happening are me keeping up with my resolutions, I’ve been updating my blog and spending time thinking about new posts.¬† I have more or less finished my personal statement, it just needs checking and then I’ll be ready to start applications. I have also discovered that I should be eligible for a career Development Loan, not that I really want to take out a loan for my MA, but library school is beckoning. Lastly, I have a meetup of people from the LIS New Professional forum next week, basically people who work in libraries are going to sit in a pub and chat. With my limited social life this sounds like the best thing ever, I’m very excited and hope to get to drink gin and talk about books.



The New Year and the rebirth of my blog have tied in quite nicely, so I pretty much have to do a resolutions/ New Year post. I don’t normally make resolutions, but this year will be one that will massively affect the rest of my life, at least as far as my career goes, and if I write my goals down it will be harder for me to read comics instead of achieving them.

So, my resolutions for 2012 are:

1- Make my applications for my library MA. It’s taken me two months to write my personal statement, and it’s not even nearly done, but every time I think about how much an MA will cost I get all depressed and stop working on applying for any. So, despite the fact I doubt I will actually be able to afford to start an MA this year I’m going to apply for them, that way if I do somehow get the money together I won’t have completely screwed myself over.

2- Write at least one blog post a week. This should be pretty easy, I managed it before, and I have a couple of ideas for posts, plus I’ll be going on interesting library visits in the upcoming weeks I can write about.

3- Read a wider variety of comics. I tend to read lots of superhero and Vertigo comics, and not much else, but I’ve been trying to change that. I’m loving Morning Glories and Chew, and I’ve read a few indie comics at work, I figure if I keep moving in that direction my knowledge of comics will be a lot broader than it is now.

4- Get a second job. This is more achievable than winning the lottery, and I can’t think of another way that will enable me to raise enough money to pay the tuition fees for my MA.

So, fun times ahead.

A new and old experiment

My old experiment, my fanzine, is over. I’ve tried really hard to keep up with it, but I just don’t have the enthusiasm for it any more. I know a lot of that is due to the fact I don’t have the time for it any more, now I have a job. So, that is over, and it failed, though in the next few weeks I will post some of the articles and reviews I wrote for it, I don’t want to waste them, and I’m proud of some of them

Instead, I have a new experiment. The plan has always (read, since I decided I didn’t want to be a teacher) been to work for a year while I apply for an MA, then go back to university for an MA of some sort, either English Lit, hopefully followed by a PHD, or Library Studies, hopefully followed by a job as a librarian. At the moment I am leaning towards the English route, and have been looking at MAs, there are several Victorian Studies ones that I am very interested in, both in London and out of it. Upcoming members of family moving to various areas of the north of England have made me following them seem sensible, especially as it is cheaper, but ultimately I’ll be ruled by course choice over everything. I’m going to make my application the best I can, so I’ve started my research already, to make sure I know as much as I can about the courses I’ll be applying for, and the application process.

The preparation for uni has also taken a different form. As I’m considering a Victorian Studies MA it makes sense for me to be reading Victorian literature, but for the last couple of months I’ve been totally reading for pleasure, lots of comics, sci-fi, fantasy and pulp fiction, with lots more ‘literary’ books as well, but all of them post-1960’s at least. I’d been worried about getting out of touch with Victorian literature, and resolving ‘I’ll start reading more Victorian lit after I finish this book’… Luckily, I have been jolted from my procrastinating, by a book of course. I bought Elaine Showalter’s A Literature of Their Own the other day, it’s something I’ve read bits of in classes and wanted to read the whole thing, and only one chapter in it’s done the job.

I have resolved to keep a reading diary, and each week I have to read at least one book that I think will be useful to my course. It doesn’t have to be Victorian, theory and earlier and later books are fine, as are all genres, but I must read one book that isn’t obviously nothing to do with what I will be studying. I’m going to dig out all the random classics I’ve acquired and not read yet, the Arnold Bennet one will be interesting, considering how scathing Woolf was of him, and I have a list of more minor Victorian authors to keep and eye out for as well. To help today I bought some Ruskin and a collected edition of modern women’s poetry, as well as A.S. Byatt’s Elementals, not Victorian at all, but perhaps rather inspired by some work of the fin du siecle, so that’s ok. It’s the first entry in my reading diary too.

Hopefully, by the time I get to uni I’ll have read over 50 books related to my course, I even before I find out what the reading lists for it actually are, I am super prepared. Forcing myself to keep some sort of academic frame of mind will be really useful, I just wish I knew someone I could actually talk to about some of the books I’ll be reading. I forsee this blog having lots of reading-related ramblings, I’m really looking forward to it.