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                              HOW DID I GET HERE

I was born in Camden but raised in Lagos, Nigeria. My background is one where studying is not an option, it is compulsory. Education was considered the most important thing in my family so I was a bit of a bookworm (still a bit bookish I’m afraid). I have always been good with numbers and with my dad being an accountant; it was a forgone conclusion that I was going to be an accountant or in a career somewhat related to finance

I remember my first encounter with a book that was not academic. I was 15, bored and rummaging through the attic, I came across a sorry excuse for a novel. It was torn and slightly damp but I read it anyway. I believe I was on page 206 when it came to an abrupt end. The final pages were missing. I couldn’t believe it. I searched high and low for the final pages but to no avail. A passion for reading had began. I would read anything and everything that came my way.

The academic system in Nigeria needless to say is not as straightforward as it is here so when I was to attend university, I gained admission to major in Library, Archival and Information Studies and minor in Economics with the option of changing my major to Economics in my second year. When my first year was over, I had decided that Librarianship was for me. My family was stunned but I had their support.

By the time I was in my final year all my illusions about librarianship had been shattered and I was disappointed in my decision (although I would never admit it). Librarianship, librarians and libraries in Nigeria were not up to the standard I felt they should be placed. The system was backward and I felt the profession was looked down upon. My one year training service at the Abia State Library Board did nothing to disabuse me of my perception but I decided to explore a new experience in another country. I was admitted to UCL for the September 2005 session but I deferred it so I could come and get settled in the UK which I did in October 2005.

It was the first time I had come to the UK since my family left when I was two. I secured a part-time library assistant position at UCL Eastman Dental Institute and awaited the beginning of the new session. I worked 4-7pm five days a week and any other hours when cover was needed. During my appointment, I catalogued the library’s serial holdings and in my free time I studied for my ECDL which I completed over a two month period.

Six months later, I secured a full-time position at The London Library, where my love of librarianship was fuelled. The pure joy on a member’s face when you locate a material they had no luck finding is indescribable. I have always loved helping people and this job gives me the opportunity to do so on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this meant that I would not be able to pursue my Masters programme at UCL due to lack of funding. A colleague of my mine was completing her Masters in Librarianship at Aberystwyth via distance learning and advised that I look into it. I did so and chose a distance learning Masters programme in Information and Library Studies at Robert Gordon University.

I had considering returning to Nigeria when I completed my masters but old fears kept me wary so for my dissertation I carried out a study on undergraduate students perceptions of academic librarians in Nigeria. The unflattering results convinced me to remain in London. My position at The London Library as a Library Assistant is what is fondly known as a Half and Halfer. I work in the Reader Services Department for half the day and in the Retrospective Cataloguing Department for the other half. I am now undertaking chartership and I am CSO Support for the Career Development Group London and South East Divisions.

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