Saturday, July 23, 2011

Introducing ..... Library Lagniappe

Library LagniappeWelcome to my new semi-monthly post, Library Lagniappe, where I'll write a little bit about being a librarian, what libraries are all about, and more.

What does Lagniappe mean?   Per the Random House Dictionary:  
1.  Chiefly Southern Louisiana and Southeast Texas . a small gift given with a purchase to a customer, by way of compliment or for good measure; bonus.

 My favorite Cajun restaurant has a number of lagniappe, like corn muffins, sweet potato polenta, etc., and they just call it "a little somethin' extra."   So, these posts will be a little somethin' extra about libraries --- as a thank you to all of you who frequent your libraries.  

 So, let's start off with an introductory kind of post:   Why become a Librarian?  

Well, the easiest way for me to answer that question would be: I chose to change careers and become a Librarian because I wanted to use my knowledge and skills to help people.     And, I love books and reading, and I wanted to share that love and excitement with other people.   But, the real reason was that I wanted to have a career where I felt like what I did made some kind of difference.  You don't need to love books to be a Librarian (especially since there are all kinds of libraries and librarians).

I had worked in my high school library for an hour every day (I had a scholarship, which meant you worked somewhere on campus for an hour each day, and I was lucky enough to get the library 3 out of 4 years), and really loved it.   I had grown up as an avid book junkie, so working in a library meant I was surrounded by books, which was way cool.  But, I also got exposed to microfilm, and microfiche, and reference books.   But I didn't go to college intending to become a librarian.

Instead, I went to college with the intention of going on to law school.  My bachelor's degree is in Political Science, and I studied and took the LSAT and started looking at law schools.   However, right when I took the LSAT, a family member was starting law school (working 2 part-time jobs and going at night), and I thought .....  maybe I should wait and see how she does.   So, I got a job in a law firm as a legal assistant, and kept law school in the back of my mind.  After seeing my family member sweat it out through law school and the Bar exam (and rack up tons of loans), I decided I didn't want to go to law school.   I liked working at the law firm, and I had worked my way up in the ranks, and I was good at what I did.   But, after 3 law firms, and 10+ years in the same field of law, I was getting a little restless.   I never felt like what I did really helped anyone.   And, I was training new attorneys (and they were getting paid a lot more than I was).   But, I had a second, part-time job at a library, working at the Circulation Desk, and I loved it.   Unfortunately, the extra overtime required by my law-firm boss meant that after about a year, I had to quit the library.   Argh.......

However, I still went to the library all the time, as a patron and one day, my old boss at the library said, "Why don't you go to library school?  You would be a great librarian."    Library school?  Huh?   There's school for that?   I had no idea.    So, I did a little research (actually, a lot of research), and did a lot of thinking.    After all, a master's degree costs money (a lot of money, actually), and I would have to go at night........

And that's what I did.    I worked full-time at a horrible job during the day, then took night classes, and after 3 years of blood, sweat and a lot of tears, I obtained my Master's Degree.     I will say, the stress of it really made me into a not-very-nice person, so I really owe a lot to my saint of a husband for putting up with me.    But, once I had my degree, I could look for a job ...... and I found a great job at my local library.   Five years later, I still love what I do ---- I help people all the time, whether it's finding a book, or the next book in a series, or helping them to format a resume' and find a job (or figure out how to use email, even).      Would I make more money if I had stayed in my previous career?  Um .... yes.  Librarians don't usually make a ton of money compared to other jobs.   But, I don't feel any more like my job is sucking out my soul.   

And ..... I'm surrounded by books all the time.   That's a perk, too.  Actually, it's both a blessing and a curse sometimes.

There are a myriad of reasons why people choose to go to library school -- this is just my own story.   Thanks for bearing with my rambling on!!

More Library Lagniappe to come, including posts on what an MLS is, some of the different kinds of libraries, what we do all day, and more.


Anonymous said...

I too am a librarian and I agree with what you said. I've wanted to do this since I was a teen. I don't have a library or bachelors degree, but just a love of reading and wanting to share that with others.

Kelly said...

Great post. I already love this new feature. Just out of curiosity, if you don't mind telling, where did you get you MLIS from? If it was from an online program, do you feel like you got the same education that you would have gotten going to a physical campus?

Tracie Nall said...

I worked in my school library in middle school and loved it! When I was an adult, I worked in a bookstore for a couple of years (in fact, that is how I met my husband, he was a frequent customer!)

With thoughts of finally going to college swirling around my brain the last year or so, I have given the librarian career some thought.

Jen said...

Thanks for the comments! Kelly, I'll be doing a post soon on the MLS --- so, timely question! I did go to a physical campus. Just when I was finishing up my last semester, they started offering online classes, so I missed out on that. However, I've taken a few classes online since getting the MLS.

Chase Your Dreams said...

There comes a point in everyone's life where the job is not worth the money if it is not what you want to do day in and day out! Your soul and happiness are more valuable than things!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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