Posted by: paultovell | October 2, 2009

Wiki Roots/Routes Project

I too thought I’d join the troop of librarians documenting their route into the profession for future wannabes.  This has all been started by Ned Potter who has set up this wiki page – do take a look if you haven’t been there yet:

My library roots began in primary school, where at the tender age of 9 I ran a lunchtime “swap shop” for kids who wanted to swap their books for others – fairly popular I remember, and quite a responsibility for a 9 year old; I do remember having to “shut up shop” early one day when my brother, 2 years younger, hurt himself and cried out for me – they knew where to find me!  By the time I was 10, I was involved in re-designing the library next door to class 9 on graph paper with box shapes for furniture.  Dizzy heights indeed – I do wonder if it should be on my CV…

But that was it for many years, until towards the end of my English degree I realised with horror that the prospect of teaching was hurtling towards me with unwelcome haste.  I really wanted to work in museums, having done some volunteer work at the Micklegate Bar Museum in York, but it didn’t seem like a very safe option with a rather limited career choice.  So I listened to my careers adviser, who suggested I look at library work, essentially as a way into museums.  I attended a fantastic lunchtime talk by Gareth Johnson who was working at York Uni Library at the time, and I think is now at the University of Leicester – a thoroughly inspiring kind of guy who just somehow “broke” the stereotype if you know what I mean, probably just because he was an extroverted male  – and applied for the graduate traineeship at Sheffield University. 

Sailing through the trainee year with much enjoyment (although working late nights till 9:30 wasn’t much fun), I then applied for a place on the MA course at Sheffield Uni.  I always had the vague idea, probably because of my traineeship, that I would end up in academic libraries.  But somehow that never happened and I jumped ship into public.  True story – I ended up working in a library 40 miles away from home because I misunderstood the location when I applied.  That was a commute and a half!  But I threw myself into the job and chartership, and have never looked back.  Well, only once or twice when I remember my days at University Radio York and ask myself, would I have made a good DJ…?



  1. If it was me, I’d have ‘Library Design Consultant’ on my CV, definitely…

    How long ago were you at York?

    • I suppose technically I was a freelance consultant, headhunted for my experience, and thanks to that I can say I have project management experience stretching back twenty years…
      I left York in 2003. Are you a fellow graduate?

  2. Yeah I was there for my undergrad from 1999-2002, and then for an MA till 2004 too. Perhaps we had the same careers advisor!

  3. Very impressive, honestly, I would add age 9 re-designing bit in a line on my CV to show prospective employers librarianship runs in my blood :). I enjoyed reading this.

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