Friday, June 8, 2012

So you want to be a librarian

It is so rewarding to be a librarian, archivist, and information scientist. Don’t misunderstand. The profession takes a lot of hard work, a drive to learn and understand, and most of all, the ability to communicate with others. You have to learn how to teach at a moment’s notice, to show others how to do something on the computer, to find a book, an article, or a government form. While being a librarian or information professional is very rewarding, most days I would leave the reference desk, and go home numb from so much thinking and so much interaction with others, with strangers. My brain needed to shut down and then restart. The mile walk home always helped to re-energize me. (That was before iPods.)

The hardest part of working as a librarian was all the interaction. I'm actually pretty shy myself and can never figure out what to say in social situations. The reference desk requires that you talk to people. You have to find a way to get over the shyness, to connect for a few moments and help that person. It takes courage and practice. Practice with your pets, with your mirror, with your friends. Help them find things. Explain things to others. After a while, it becomes natural to put on that 'pseudo extrovert' persona in public.

Organizations like Toastmasters help you speak to others and give presentations. Otherwise, you have to find the courage inside to do it yourself. Underneath the surface, many librarians and archivists want to commune with books, information, and computers. Find a way to break out of the mold at the library. Remember there’s always a book waiting for you at home. Take time to relax, refresh, and re-energize every day, at lunch, at break time. That’s the time to turn inward and savor the ‘me’ time.

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