September marks my triumphant return to GLAM Blog Club! This month’s theme – ‘strange’ – is particularly interesting for me. As I’ve settled into full-time, on-going work I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on both my strange journey into librarianship and also the strange turns my career path has taken in the short couple of years I’ve been in the GLAMR industry.
When I first started thinking about a career in librarianship, I imagined myself as a reference librarian, although I didn’t know that was what it was called at the time. I imagined myself dutifully assisting students with their enquiries at the library help desk. Certainly, that is what I did for a little while, right at the beginning of my career, just as I’d imagined.
However, the winds of change are never still in libraries and I found myself moving from casual academic librarian work to a full-time position at a large public library then back to a full-time a academic library position and finally, into my current role as AIRS Library Adviser at QUT.
My current role is where things get a bit strange – it’s nothing like the jobs I imagined I’d have before starting my library course and while writing assignments about reference interviews. It’s definitely not a ‘traditional’ librarian position and initially, that did give me some pause when applying. As a long time QUT student, I knew about AIRS and how it supported HDR students to develop the research skills they’d need to be successful in their candidature. I’d even gone to a couple of the workshops ‘for fun’ while studying my Graduate Diploma so that I could write a blog post about library support services for an assignment. I think knowing about the good work of the AIRS Librarian and the team of Liaison Librarians who teach into AIRS was what got me over the line in terms of being okay with departing from a ‘traditional’ library role and dipping my toe into something a bit stranger.
I’m glad I did – my job is incredibly rewarding and utilises all of the skills I developed on the reference desk and in my library studies and has helped me develop a bunch of new ones. I still engage meaningfully with students on a daily basis – instead of doing so on a help desk, I do it via email and over the phone. I answer all kinds of enquiries about AIRS and sometimes I even dispense a bit of referencing advice, just like I did in the good old reference desk days!
I also get to do so much more – I help keep the AIRS Website up to date (so learning a bit about writing for the web in my library course has ended up being very handy!), I create new learning objects for the website, brainstorm with the AIRS Librarian on how we can make online learning more engaging for our students and I play a role in updating the course content and assignment materials. As AIRS is located in the Library’s Research Support Team I also do all kinds of strange stuff as required, including lending a hand to organise the QUT ePrints 25 Million Downloads Celebration event, creating an Augmented Reality treasure hunt game for ResBaz 2018 and helping out as needed during special events like OA Week.
Best of all, I’m surrounded by knowledgeable Research Support Librarians who don’t mind answering my many, many questions and sharing their knowledge with me – I even get to shadow them regularly to build my professional skills, which is incredible.
I’m glad I embraced the strange!
I’ll end my blog post here, with a link to a topical article I stumbled across recently: ‘Embracing diversity: When is a librarian not a librarian‘ by Celia Drummond – which talks about all the strange places librarians can end up and how our skill set can work in a variety of non-traditional, non-library settings. Enjoy and be open to the strange!