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Refchef

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My Route to Librarianship

Eighteen years ago I was working as the executive chef at White oak Plantation in Baton Rouge, La. I was tired of food service, and bored out of my mind. I was complaining to my mother about my misery. Her response? Become a librarian!!

You're out of you mind, Mom!! Me? A librarian? I am WAAY cooler than that. I'm a musician. A chef. I've been fighting the nerd impulses since I was 14 -- I'm not giving up just because I'm 35 and bored.

No, really.. she said. The Dean of the Graduate School is a librarian (she worked at LSU). She's really cool. You'll like her. I'm making an appointment for you.

And she did. And I went.

Kathleen de la Pena McCook could sell sand in the desert. She got me so pumped up, it was like I had attended a tent revival. I was ready to sign on. Librarianship would save me -- and in turn, I would save the world! Hallelujah! The next morning I was not so excited... After a good night's sleep, library school (just the name is a turn off...) sounded more like failure than salvation.

I didn't register. I got another job -- as a catering manager. Four months on that job did it. I wasn't just tired and bored -- I hated food service! Anything was better than this. I signed on to take my turn as a librarian-to-be.

Miraculously, I rather liked it. Well... I didn't really like library school. But I actually loved my Graduate Assistantships. I started in the Design Library as a do-everything flunky. It was a good place to start for someone who had only used the university library as a cut-through on the way to class (Music majors don't use the library much). I moved on to Middleton Library and found my spiritual home in the Reference Department. I really LOVED working in reference. It was interesting; I could use my brain; and I felt useful. What's not to love? When I graduated I was ready to take the Library World by storm.

I had planned on being an academic reference librarian but my husband wasn't willing to relocate, so that option was out for me. With deep disappointment, I applied at the local public library and eventually got hired on working in a community branch. And I've been at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library ever since -- sixteen years as a librarian.

I've been a Teen Librarian, an Outreach Librarian, a Circulation Librarian, a Computer Services Librarian, a Branch Manager and a Reference Librarian (now head of reference services for the system). I've done story-times (poor, poor children -- I'm really bad at it), made presentations, conducted craft classes, initiated services, appeared on TV... I've done a LOT of things here -- things I never even thought of doing when I was in library school, much less before I went.

And I've discovered something during my sixteen years as a librarian: I'm not the only WAAY too cool person who works in a library. There's a whole lot of us in this here field. My Library Nerd flag flies high and proud.

It's been a great career.

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