From Zero To Library Hero

By Emma, Liaison Librarian at AUT.

All my life I struggled to concentrate in school and was subsequently sent home year after year with failing school reports saying, “Should try harder.”  I hated most of my high-school years, uninspired and forced to feel stupid. I thought the school library was an unwelcoming, gloomy place where only nerds hung out.

I always believed I’d be a teacher, but because of my low grades I didn’t get accepted into the School of Education. The day after I got my rejection letter, my best friend suddenly passed away.  I spiralled into depression; I was lost, on the dole with no direction in life.  After months of grieving, my mother suggested I visit the local libraries and volunteer to get some work experience.  Although none of the libraries accepted me, MIT library called me a few weeks later and offered me a paid part-time job shelving books.

I instantly liked the atmosphere of an academic library, and rediscovered my love for literature. I enrolled in Auckland University’s Continuing Education night classes, discussing Victorian literature and Shakespearian plays. There was no assessment, just enjoying the literature and expanding our minds. Without the pressure of assignments and tests to make me feel inadequate, I was free to explore. By the end of the courses I felt I wanted more and decided to enrol in a make-up year at Auckland University. With that under my belt I had the confidence and skills to attempt a BA in English, History and Film studies, all the time keeping my part-time Shelving job.

Halfway through my BA I discovered my struggle was due to ADD but by then I had gained the skills and passion of a life-long learner.  I spent hours both in AU and MIT’s libraries and thought it was a the kind of place I belonged. One of the librarians at MIT suggested after my BA I should apply to Victoria University’s MLIS. The week after I finished my BA, I landed my first “real job” as a library assistant at one of my old schools. An amazing thing had happened in the time between me being a student there and working there. Not only had my attitude toward libraries changed, Libraries themselves had changed. The school library went from a pokey, smelly converted classroom full of books to a purpose-built, three roomed, bright, vibrant library.

Share your path to librarianship.


  1. tracysjsu says:

    Thanks for sharing your story Emma, it was wonderfully inspiring to read.

  2. Penny says:

    Great story!

  3. Cath Sheard says:

    What a great story Emma. Sounds like AU’s Continuing Ed classes really opened some doors for you.

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