I Was Doomed From The Start

By Shelley Gurney (Twitter, Linkedin)

I was never not going to be a librarian. From the cradle – it was all about books. When I was a toddler, you had to forcibly remove me – kicking and screaming – from the stacks of the local library, and when I discovered how to read… lordy! The saints preserve us all. I was unstoppable.

At the end of 2nd form, we had a “most likely to” competition in class. My peers unanimously voted that I (surprise, surprise), would be a librarian. And so my time, if not on a sports field or in a classroom was in a library, as an assistant, or as a patron. That simple.

But I never actually seriously thought I’d *be* a librarian.  Libraries were all I had known, and were as familiar to me as my own home. DDC numbers, processing books, shelving. It was all as natural as breathing. I wanted to do other things.

But it would have been halfway through my Honours year in English Lit that I really thought about my future. A BA doesn’t put bread on your table, after all, and I applied to do my MA (in English – got accepted), and my MLIS, which also got accepted. (Word of advice, never try to sit two Master’s degrees simutaneously. It really doesn’t work).

Fast forward a few years, and I have an MA and an MLIS next to my name, and I had my dream job: flying around Australia and writing and holding PD workshops on Metadata, Social Media, XML and the Semantic Web for CAVAL Ltd. It was the most fun I’ve ever had – meeting and teaching all types of library and information professionals.

If I could do it again, I would. In a heartbeat.

But for now, with a few more months to go of looking after an extraordinary special library with some great staff, and having experienced all types of information management between primary school and now, I have to say – being a librarian has to be my dream job.

It’s the ability to teach and help others, the thrill of the information chase, continually learning new things, and being able to collaborate and communicate with everybody. Why wouldn’t you want to work with knowledge and information?!

But you know what the best part of being a librarian has been? Those who have mentored me, inspired me, shaped the way I manage my library, and the way I play with others (whether they know it or not). Those who we draw experience from are often the unsung heroes of our calling. And we build on their dreams to make being what we are the fantastic thing it is.

In the beginning, it was all about books, but what has made this my dream job is the people. And I, for one, love it.

Share your path to librarianship.


  1. Cath Sheard says:

    I loved reading your story Shelley, but omg, two Masters at once? Utter madness 😉

  2. vanzijlp says:

    My story starts of quite boring…I was in love with my English Teacher, and what was good enough for Miss Meyer, was good enough for me, so I went to University, and walked out a Librarian, five years later. What happened next, was another story. Perhaps I should write it down 😉

    1. Sally says:

      Looking forward to reading more 🙂

  3. adeej says:

    I’m so loving these ‘My path to librarianship’ posts. I’m glad I started something good! Adrian Jenkins

  4. Shelley says:

    Reblogged this on Missives from Nowhere and commented:
    A piece I did for Sally. It came dangerously close to becoming an Oscar acceptance speech…

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