Wednesday, 18 June 2014

What's your story?



So, you may be detecting a recurring theme in my blog - other than libraries, that is. And that is the challenges of career planning and ways of overcoming them. In fact, this is at the foremost of my mind, not only because I'm at something of a crossroads in my career, but because I am presenting a paper on this topic at the ALIA National Conference in September.


As a professional who has, several times, ventured away from Melbourne and away from the industry, to gain valuable experience and bring it back with me, I originally entitled my paper "There and Back Again" - an obvious Tolkien reference.

However, upon the release of the program, I found that some other librarians had also entitled their presentation "There and Back Again". Furthermore, in a fitting twist of fate, I have also accepted into a program that will be sending me to work in a knowledge management role with an NGO in Hanoi for the next couple of years.

And so, I have renamed my paper, "The road goes ever on and on." Yes, another Tolkien reference. It's an interesting one, because it is a song that Bilbo Baggins sings several times in the books. The first of these is when he returns to The Shire after his awfully big adventure to Lonely Mountain and back, and it speaks of a circular journey that takes him "there and back again" (the alternative title to "The Hobbit")

However, by the time we meet Bilbo again in "The Lord of the Rings", the lyrics have changed. In something of a Wordsworthian transformation, it no longer resolves in the return home, but takes more of a linear narrative, looking forward to the unknown: And whither then? I cannoy say.

Whilst at the time my choice of title was something of a literary conceit, now I'm starting to consider which narrative modes our own career choices take us as professionals. Are they circular or linear?

Does our story take us there and back again, or do we take the road that goes ever on and on?