Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zigzaggy path

I wanted to wrap up the last post with a short synopsis of my library career path. I had always planned on being a librarian in the public library. Back in the mid 90s I worked as a page at the SF Public Library and really liked it. Years went by doing many other and varied jobs, and, fast forward to 2004, I decided to go back to school to get my MLIS. I focused my coursework on outreach to special populations and non users with a heavy emphasis on mobile library services. I was pretty much known as the "bookmobile girl".

My last semester of library school I began working as a library assistant in a multimedia library at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, thinking I'd do it for the remainder of the semester after which I'd be whisked up by a public library somewhere in the SF Bay Area. Well, low and behold, that didn't happen. And in the meantime, I stayed at Kaiser, was promoted to Media Librarian. In the Fall of 2008, they closed the library definitively and unfortunately, my oncall reference work at the SFPL wasn't going to turn into a full time permanent position as they had just frozen all city jobs. As fortune has it, just as I was being booted out of Multimedia Communications at Kaiser, a medical librarian position was opening up in Kaiser.

For quite a while, I had wondered if public librarianship really was for me. Many of my colleagues at the SFPL were quite worn out after just a few years on the job-- for some reason for many of them, it wasn't what they had expected. And some of the reference questions I got as an oncall really werent that stimulating. I wondered how long it would be before I would get jaded by dealing with the mentally ill and homeless and less than appreciative customers. I also had some wonderful mentors in the medical library world who encouraged me to apply for the job and try it out. Well, here I am 6 months later in my new career path. I feel very challenged and engaged by the research. I really enjoy the hospital staff and see a lot of interesting directions my new skill set and experience can take me. And my experience in outreach and getting nonusers into the library isn't lost on this job! In fact, I find it to be incredibly beneficial --especially since it has been more than once that I've heard "What? I didn't know there was a library at the hospital!" I can still put my outreach skills and interests to work in a medical library setting!

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