Hello and welcome back to the Wells Reference Blog! For those of you just tuning in, this is where the public service assistants of Herman B Wells Library reflect on librarianship and librarian-related topics. In the past, this has often taken the form of highlighting services and resources in the Wells Library. Last year we took a different approach and we reflected on what it means to be a librarian. This semester we’ll be focusing on the process of becoming a librarian and what that means.
How does one become a librarian? What sort of education and training are required? What aspects of the education we receive seem necessary and useful? What are we putting into practice now as we work at Wells Library and what will we put into practice in the future? How does this vary based on the type of library and area of interest? Who are the people instructing and mentoring us? What are some things we wish we could learn more about? These are the type of questions we’ll be asking ourselves this semester.
Having recently started my second year in the library and information science program at Indiana University, when I think about the education I’ve received and am receiving, I think back to where I was when I started the program and started working at the reference desk at Wells Library.
I had a class and a shift on the reference desk on my first day, which also happened to be the first day of classes for the semester. Returning to school after several (and several more) years away, having no previous experience working in a library, I was excited and terrified. Most of my peers were younger than me, seemed sure of their areas of interest in librarianship, and seemed to know exactly what they wanted to get out of the program and their time at Indiana University. I had an idea that librarianship would be a good fit for me based on my strengths and interests, but no concrete proof, and an interest in youth services in public libraries that I was reluctant to admit to anyone, including myself. I was terrified that I didn’t belong and that I was going to be told I was all wrong for librarianship.
My first shift at the reference desk, I kept hearing a dinging noise and finally asked the librarian I was working with what it was, only to be told it was the chat. Then I couldn’t figure out how to get to the window for the chat application. Not a promising start. But I was also excited to learn and work toward a goal that I had enthusiasm for and believed in.
Since that time, the most important thing I’ve learned in the program is that I can be a librarian. Actually, that may be the second most important thing. The most important thing I’ve learned is that I can be myself, as cheesy as that may sound. Last year, I was overwhelmed and terrified working my first shift at the reference desk. This year, I proudly wore a shirt with a detachable cape to my first shift at the reference desk, to the astonishment of several patrons. And while my education isn’t complete yet, and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more in that time, whatever happens, I know that at the end of this process, I can become a librarian. And I’m hoping I’ll get to become a librarian who wears a cape at least every once in a while.