Monday, October 03, 2005

One day I'll get my degree and rule the world! Er, uh, the library. Well, I won't rule it, per se.

I'm talking about being a library director, the head of the library. This is something several family members can see in my future, but I'm not leaning that way.

Where in the library world will I work?

This has increasingly been my focus. I've already ruled out school librarian - I'd have to get a teaching certificate too, be a "teacher-librarian." Children's librarian? Not for me. Reference librarian? I've thought about it. There are various positions in a library I could go for, but the last several years have shown me that I don't want to be 'trapped' in a library position like that. Not that circulation or ILL or technical services or whatever is bad. Let me explain....

Part one: For the last several years while I've been waiting to get into school I've been working for a little Christian ministry called Mustard Seed Associates. They work to network the church around many different ideas: whole life faith, stewardship, community, cohousing, etc, etc. Check out the website. I've also been really involved in my church, North Seattle Friends Church. For several years we had an "alternative" Sunday night worship service. I was part of the planning for that and we did a lot of interesting, creative things. I've also been helping plan a big international gathering of Quaker young adults, the World Gathering of Young Friends. All of this "church work" has been exciting and compelling. So part one is that I want to continue in church ministry somehow. I should point out that for some time I believed that it would be the library world or the church world, and never the 'twain shall meet...

Part two: I really like libraries! One thing I really like is the potential for communities. Libraries can be a "third place" and they aren't necessarily your stereotypical hushed, darkened buildings. They can be lively and noisy as well! I love the idea of the library being a meeting place, a social place, a place to connect, a community center. Seattle Public Library is currently constructing a new branch in Northgate, complete with community center and park. Yes!

So how do these two come together? Along with all my other interests/skills, of course...

Last February I took a very brief trip to England for the WGYF. After landing at the airport we all climbed off the plane and had to take a shuttle over to the terminal. Standing there on the shuttle, swaying back and forth and holding onto our luggage, I began to speak with the woman next to me. she explained that she had only completed half of her journey. She was headed to southern Africa to work in a theological university... to teach computer... and to be the librarian!

I just about fell over. This was my job! This is what I wanted to do! I didn't know it until I heard it, but there it was.

A few months later I was part of a meeting for clearness for a friend who was trying to decide an issue. I didn't know the issue until a little beforehand. She was trying to decide if she should go to an orphanage in Mexico to teach and set up a library!

A little while later I was checking out a cool organization I found once, called Room to Read. RTR sets up libraries and schools in less developed areas, mostly in Southeast Asia. I checked out their site and they were advertising that they needed a librarian to join their staff and help develop collections and give advice to people on the ground in these countries. My dream job!

Well, maybe not quite, but you get the picture.

I don't know if this will lead me to other countries eventually, or even just to less priveleged places here in the US. I hope at some point to work with Christian colleges/universities/schools/organizations in setting up useful libraries. Libraries that are accessible and welcoming; real community centers. Undoubtedly this won't make me the millions of dollars some are thinking I could make - but for me it's not about the money. It's about service. It's helping people find information. To some extent, it is teaching people. It's empowering people. It's meeting the needs of a community.

Perhaps I'm a bit naive. But hey, maybe grad school will beat it out of me. =)

No comments: