My first library “job” was as “volunteen” for the summer reading program at the Garden Grove Chapman Branch of the Orange County Public Library. I did this during the summers in junior high school and into my freshman year of high school. I spent my time helping smaller kids tally up the number of books they had read, doling out prizes, and making suggestions for books they might enjoy. We helped out with decorations, crafts, story time and puppet shows. We auditioned for and rehearsed for the peak moment of the summer reading program series, the annual teen melodrama. I also did “other duties as assigned” — pasting, cutting, sorting books in preparation for shelving (I had a very tenuous grasp of the Dewey Decimal System) “repairing” cheap paperback books that were near the end of their life, and running small errands. I have always liked to stay busy, so I’m sure I drove the librarians crazy with requests for more tasks. I’m also amazed with the relative autonomy I had. Never overlook the power of the 7th and 8th grade work force!
For National Library Week I helped to pull together an OCLC Next series focusing on OCLC staff “first library job” experiences. I’ve always been impressed with the depth and breadth of my OCLC colleagues’ experience working in libraries before coming to OCLC, and the commitment that they continue to show in working with libraries at OCLC. In reading their responses to our questions I’m struck by how many of my colleagues started working in libraries at a very young age. This should be instructive to all of us who work with young people — they may well stick around!
I note that this year the theme of National Library Week is “libraries transform” — the blog posts help to underscore that theme of transformation, both for the libraries we have worked for and with, and also for the careers we have had. There is a lot of of wisdom in these posts, so I hope you read and enjoy them.
- My first library job
- The road to librarianship
- Advice to my younger self
- How my first job prepared me for today’s challenges
- The future of libraries
Thanks to all who participated in the series — we had a great response and more content than we could possibly use. Special thanks to Brad Gauder, who did much of the heavy lifting in helping out with this series.
You can share your own “first library story” in the comments below, or on Twitter (use #NLW16 and #OCLCnext).
Merrilee Proffitt is Senior Manager andprovides project management skills and expert support to institutions within the OCLC Research Library Partnership.