My Library Career

When I talk to people about my career as a librarian, a surprising number say “I always wanted to be a librarian.” I’m not sure they have a realistic concept of what a librarian does.

It’s helpful to love books. It’s good to have a passion for helping people and uniting them with books and information.

Most likely, they would find library work similar to other jobs, except you do your work in a library setting. I worked in libraries for 30 years. My first teen job was shelving books which gets rather tedious over time.

After getting my master’s degree in library science, I became a children’s librarian. Getting children excited about books kept me enthused about going to work each day.

Virginia Martin with the storytime kids at the Chardon Library back in the 1970s. Ohio

Later as a reference librarian, then a department head and finally a library director, my job changed. In the final years, I spent more time preparing budgets, dealing with staffing issues, writing grant applications and other managerial chores. That meant less time actually spent with people or books which is what first attracted me to library service.

Virginia Martin Lord during my 15 years at the Baltimore County Public Library.

Shut up in my ivory tower (otherwise known as the Director’s Office), I slaved away at my desk. It was isolating. Still, I loved that my work made a difference in people’s lives through services the library provided. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to be a librarian.

The Weslaco Public Library in South Texas.

3 thoughts on “My Library Career

  1. wordstock16 December 3, 2016 / 5:16 am

    I think I told you my mother was a librarian. Librarian in Texas and Colorado. Children’s librarian in Covina and Monrovia, California. Librarian at La Puente High School and Roland High School in California. The best thing is really for the children of Librarians. I spent all my summers and holidays in the library. She taught me to love reading so those were magical times.

  2. New Hampshire Garden Solutions December 3, 2016 / 11:49 pm

    when I was young I was lucky enough to live on the same street as a grade school teacher and become friends of the family. They taught me to love books and libraries by bringing me along when they visited the local library each week throughout summer. I’ve spent many, many hours in libraries (and bookstores) ever since.

  3. Kathryn Grace December 6, 2016 / 5:59 pm

    Librarians, especially reference librarians, rank right up there with teachers as the unsung heroes of our time. Before the internet, I spent a great deal of time in libraries “looking things up.” Reference librarians saved my bacon many a time, always willing to find a source for an obscure fact or a quote I sort-of remembered but couldn’t quite put my finger on. I regularly haunted the Periodical Guide and kept my local reference librarian busy hunting up archived publications buried in the basement. She always responded with a smile and assurances that if she couldn’t find whatever I was looking for, she knew someone who could. I did a lot of inter-library loans in those days, waiting with anticipation for the phone call that my book from New York or that particular issue of a little-known, narrowly-distributed newsletter was in and ready for pickup. Some publications were so rare, I had to read them at the library so they could be sent on their way back to Timbuktu or wherever in good order.

    So here’s a bow to you, Virginia, for your years of service as a member of one of the most important professions in the world. Where would we be without books, paper and ink?

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