I think in many ways my route into librarianship has been fairly ‘textbook’; graduate traineeship, full-time library Masters, but actually the textbook route isn’t the most usual one.
As an undergraduate, I had a bit of a panic about what to do when I grew up. My friends seemed to have vague ideas of what areas they wanted to go into; NGOs/charities, publishing, postgraduate study… but what about me? No idea!
But it was staring me in the face. I already worked at a library. I had worked for two years previous in a different library. And I loved it. I just didn’t know librarianship was a thing. After some internet research and a friendly chat with my subject librarian, I was ready to go! After many applications, and a few interviews, I was successful in getting a graduate trainee position (the one I really wanted too!), at the Bodleian Social Science Library at Oxford University.
The year was amazing. The SSL was a really lovely place to work, and Oxford was a lovely, if expensive, place to live. The trainee scheme also involved weekly training sessions, and there were about 18 or so of us; a ready-made network of colleagues and friends. I really feel my trainee year set me up fantastically for library school, but if I had decided against PG study, it was a great set of experiences and skills for working in a library or elsewhere.
I recommend graduate traineeships as a way into the profession, but I am well aware they are very competitive. It’s important to remember that, yes while they are a great path to becoming a librarian, they are not the only path. I’d say roughly half, or maybe not even that, of people on my course were trainees before starting the Masters.
Which leads me on to…
I went straight into full-time study for my Librarianship degree, but a lot of my fellow trainees decided to do it part-time (or not do it at all). I think it all just depends on your own situation. I was successful in my application for AHRC funding, for which I am incredibly grateful, as it has allowed me to do the course in one year, and to move to Sheffield to do so.
Though, again, funding is very competitive, and I’m fairly sure the number of awards is reduced year on year. This, combined with ever increasing fees, I am sure will result in fewer people embarking on a library degree, or more choosing to combine part time study with employment.
This is definitely something I intend to do in my future. However, right now, my thoughts are turned to finding a job first, preferably a professional post. Once that’s sorted I can think about the rest!