cpd23: Thing 20 – Roots & Routes

Thing 20 asked the participants to write about their library roots and how they got into libraries for The Library Routes Project.

The roots or: why I became a librarian

  • I like books and I love to read (I know, it is a cliché and most of my fellow students gave the same reason). I have always been a library user for as long as I can remember.
  • I embrace the quiet and studious atmosphere of the library.
  • I want to work in contact with people providing assistance, support and researching information.

In the Easter holidays a few years before finishing school, I completed an internship at the Department for Children and Youth Books at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – my first encounter with a research library.

The routes, or: how I became a librarian
I completed a four-year diploma in librarianship at the Faculty of Information Sciences at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam (diploma thesis). The programme required three internships in various libraries and information institutions. I took the opportunity to get a look behind the scences of different special libraries in Berlin. As student assistant, I was retro-cataloguing books at the library of the Wissenschaftsparkt Albert Einstein in Potsdam. My first encounters with an academic library and its operation and services (apart from using the library of my university) was an internship at the Music Library at Trinity College Library and at Alexander Library, Rutgers University Libraries, New Brunswick, NJ.

Returning to Germany after 6 months in the U.S., I got my first job as Technical Services librarian at the Information Resource Center at Jacobs University. Asked by the library director to fill-in for a few months, it has been a great opportunity for starting for my professional career and turned into a permanent position, providing me with a very comprehensive background knowledge about cataloguing, publishers, electronic resources, licences and consortia.
However, I always wanted to be in closer contact to the library users. That is why I changed jobs and applied for my current position as deputy librarian in the Branch Library for Engineering and Social Sciences at the Staats- und Universitaetsbibliothek Bremen. I am a liaison librarian, responsible for the collection development in various subject areas as well as information literacy instruction for several bachelor and master degree programmes. So far, I have been lucky, being in the right place at the right time.

While working, I finished a doctoral dissertation at the Berlin School of Library and Information Science at Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin in 2010. Currently, I am working towards a MSc in Management via a distance learning course at Fernuniversität in Hagen. I am looking at areas of business administration and management that are completely new to me and hopefully this qualification will open up doors in the future.

Having a look at The Library Routes Project
I enjoyed reading about other peoples’ career starts and paths. It looks that most people just fell into the profession and didn’t set out to be a librarian in the first place – unlike me. In addition, the project demonstrates the variety of job titles and tasks in the library field. I am surprised about the number of career changer from completely other subject areas, from one focus (i.e. cataloguing) to another (i.e. reference) as well as from one library sector to another (i.e. public to special or academic or vice versa – this does not happen very often in Germany). Each described path into library and information work appears to be individually formed. While browsing through a number of posts, I came across two citations that I completely relate to:

“I enjoy every bit and I don’t think there’s any other job that would give me this much variety and all in a building that’s filled with my favourite thing – books.” (Felicity Cross)

“Our profession is so varied and constantly evolving that there is absolutely no chance that what I’m paid to do each day becomes tedious or mind numbingly boring. You can take your career in lots of different directions just by being open to possibilities and transferring skills from one sector to another can be really useful.” (Colette Blair)

A few weeks ago, I also came across the posts by Lauren Smith (“What do public librarians do?“) and Phil Bradley (A library is not…) – both advocacy texts about what librarians do. Two very interesting infographics are “One week in the life of one librarian” by Janie Hermann and “A Librarian’s Worth” by Masters in Education.org.


Photo: Woods near Bremen, October 2011. (c) Sabine Rauchmann.

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