By Cath Sheard, I’ve finally found my passion.
I left school at the end of the 6th form and, being in very rural NZ with few opportunities, took the first job I was offered – in tearooms, then as a caregiver at the IHC. I loved working for the IHC but was bored, and headed to Wellington where I quickly found work. I started as a data entry operator with Fletcher Challenge and quickly worked my way up to Supervisor, at just 19.
I married young and we moved round quite a bit. I did various office jobs; data entry, patent & trademark work, and running the computer side of a printing firm which lead to me being office manager for a computer firm specialising in software for the print industry. Some of the time I travelled round New Zealand, installing software and teaching people how to use it.
My father died suddenly when I was 27 and life fell apart. My husband and I coped by turning our backs on each other, not turning to each other. Within a year we had separated and I moved back to the family home. I remarried, and started studying socially, psychology and history by distance learning, unsure of what to do next. I realised sociology was my forte and went on to complete a Post Graduate Diploma over the next few years. I got a job working for the IHC again and loved it, but after major surgery was no longer physically able to handle to lifting.
My old primary school teacher, now the town’s librarian, offered me part time work at Patea Library. Eventually I went Waverley Library full time, then back to Patea when the librarian retired. At about the same time, Council decided to combine council services into the libraries; I ended up in charge of both Patea & Waverley libraries, now rebranded LibraryPlus to signify that we offered the full range of Council services. Earlier this year the day-to-day management of Aoatea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki was added to my job, and my role as Deputy to the Manager Libraries and Cultural Services was formalised.
In libraries I’ve found the perfect mix of the things that I care about; people, communities, technology and learning. I enjoy finding new ways to take the library beyond the physical walls and meet people where they are. I love making our kids feel welcome, and knowing the names of all our borrowers. I value being part of a vibrant, passionate profession. I didn’t take that initial part time job with any thought of a career, I just needed work. But, 19 years on, I know this is where I belong and am glad I finally found my passion.