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Sarah Newbutt

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As I sat staring blankly at the computer screen, I knew I had to get out of this dead-end job. I had a degree in English; surely I could do better than an admin job that required little more of me than switching on a computer and answering a phone? My mind wandered back to the previous year, when I had been a happy student and naively believed that as soon as I was handed my BA Hons certificate I would suddenly know which career path I was supposed to follow. Most of my uni friends had gone into teaching, and I knew I didn’t want to do that – why would anyone want to go back to school and spend their days amongst teenagers? Others were trying to get into publishing, which sounded more appealing to me due to my love of books, but in the back of my mind I knew I didn’t want to settle for a career that seemed just OK – I wanted excitement, passion, pleasure from a job.

And then... there it was, the answer lay before me. I was spending my days trawling careers and jobs websites when the word suddenly appeared in flashing pink neon – LIBRARIAN. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? I loved libraries as a child. I remember thinking how lucky the ladies were who worked in there to be surrounded by all those books every day. I loved the library at uni. I remember feeling slightly jealous of a friend who worked as an evening assistant there. Working with people would beat working in this lonely office. And even more appealing to me was the discovery that you need a Masters to become one – I would get to go back to uni!

I handed in my three-month notice and began applying for Graduate positions and gathering course information from unis. I was too late for most of the Graduate positions; I did get an interview for one in Oxford but was unsuccessful, leaving me feeling slightly deterred. I left the dead-end job with nothing to go to but a two week work experience placement at the local public library. This turned into a five month volunteer position for the library service, in which I shadowed different librarians, led story times and helped set up a brand new library. I was then lucky enough to gain a full-time library assistant role at one of the branches, where I developed my interest in working with children by setting up story times, running competitions and forging successful links with several local nurseries and schools.

Before I knew it I was heading off to Sheffield to start my MA Librarianship. The year passed by in a whirlwind of lectures, workshops, essays, research and wine. Around the time the modules were finishing and dissertation work was starting in earnest, I began browsing the job pages in excited anticipation of where I might be in just a few months time. I decided to apply for some of the posts advertised to gain some experience of filling in application forms and, hopefully, going to interviews. The first one was for an Assistant Librarian in a school with three libraries catering for 3-18 year olds. And I got it! The day after handing in my dissertation I moved to a new city to go back to school and spend my days amongst teenagers (and the cute little ones too).

I thoroughly enjoy the variety of school library work, which includes liaising with teachers, preparing and delivering information skills lessons, cataloguing, issuing and returning books, setting up displays and generally instilling a culture of using the library within the school. And now, as I sit here staring at the computer screen, it is with a great big smile on my face :)

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