Over the course of my time at Toledo Public Library, I have decided on a career path, changed my mind, and changed course countless times. Before graduation, I had my career path perfectly mapped. I was going to be an Adult Services Librarian in the Humanities Department at the Main Library where all my knowledge of the arts and music would be put to great use. This was of course, pre-2008 financial collapse, when the idea of not finding a job after graduation was laughable. Of course I would find work! Of course I would get the exact position I was looking for! Of course this would all happen within a month of graduation!
This was, obviously, not how things went down. In one comically horrible swoop, it was announced that Ohio’s public library fund would be slashed in half, and that perfect first position (that I already had my resume submitted for) was slashed along with it. What is the moral of the story? Nothing works out exactly as you planned it to. This simple lesson has dictated my career path ever since.
So I moved on. I was fortunate enough to not lose my part-time job in circulation at TLCPL, and I took a second job at Barnes and Noble. Within a few months, the Nook was announced. Suddenly I found myself in a position where I was somehow the most tech-savvy employee around, and as such, was in charge of all Nook offerings from classes to sales. A few months after that, I was given the position of Children’s Department Lead. I became engrossed in picture books and lexile levels as well as the basics of management. Before graduation I never would have pictured myself working with technology or children, let alone managing a department, yet I found to my great surprise, that I not only was good at these things, but I liked them as well.
Which brings me to my newest career goal…
I believe that the library is a temple of learning for all ages. In today’s technological world, access to computers and the internet are absolutely crucial to success on every level. You cannot apply for most jobs today by turning in a paper application or resume. You have to submit an online application. To do so, you must have an email account. To get an email account, you must know what an internet browser is. To access an internet browser, you have to know how to operate a mouse. I’m sure you see where I am going with this…
I cannot count how many people enter my library every week and have never owned a computer, let alone learned how to use one. Because of this, their children have never had easy access to a computer either. For these children, their only exposure comes in small bursts at school that are not quite long enough to give them the knowledge of technology they need. These inexperienced users have come to realize that this is a problem. Not just a small problem, but a completely debilitating problem that affects their lives daily. And where do they come to fix this problem? The library: because the library is a judgment-free place, where a friendly face will show patience and understanding and help them to get to where they need to be. That is why my ultimate career goal is to be a Virtual Services Coordinator within a public library system.
I want to use the knowledge learned from LIS 6010 and my other classes to gain perspective and experience in not just public libraries, but all sorts of information agencies. I want to be able to look at how a public library offers its virtual services compared with other information agencies and understand whether or not it is as good as it can be. In a world where many people simply cannot afford to connect their home to the internet, someone needs to be making sure they can get what they need elsewhere.
Similarly, I want to make sure that libraries are proactive in their response to new technological offerings rather than reactive. 3D printers, a place to compose music, recording spaces — build it, and people will use it. If anything can be learned from the eBook explosion that has happened in recent years, it is that there is a place for technology within a library, as long as librarians are brave enough to accept it.
In my opinion, virtual services are how libraries will not only remain relevant in the future, but quite possibly surpass their current level of importance.