Friday, 5 June 2015

How did I get here?

Now, since I'm participating in #blogjune, and the majority of participants are those working in the library and information industry, I thought I'd share a little on how I came to be where I am.

Firstly, one of the things that attracted me to this profession is the scope of work that I could potentially be doing. When undergoing my masters, we learn a range of library-specific skills, but more importantly, underlying all of these are professional principles of information management - which, of course, are essential in libraries, but they are also kind of essential in any work environment, regardless of whether they have a traditional library or not! And yes, all professionals have their own ways of managing their information and knowledge, but organisations often need somebody to coordinate this so that information and knowledge can be shared through a system that is compatible with all of its workers. Given the human element involved in the personal management practices of many staff, this is no mean feat.

So, as a professional, once you've established a strong knowledge of information principles, the opportunities for work are limited only by your imagination, your contextual knowledge of a particular industry, and the human resources budget of your prospective employer (and this is a major factor!).

So, given that you've done the professional groundwork (i.e. qualification and fundamental experience), how do you get the specialist experience to get to the interesting stuff?

Do you remember those word puzzles, where you change one letter at a time?
Source: http://www.powgi.com/puzzle/2015-03-02.png
Yes, there is the traditional career path of getting a job, and then doing your supervisor's job, and so on, moving up the hierarchy, and certainly, my career did start out that way:

Public Library Officer
Public Library Technician
Public Librarian
Public Library Team Leader

But it's once you start replacing some of the elements and completely changing work environments, whilst progressively developing skills, your career starts taking a completely different pathway - one that doesn't always seem organic at first glance:

Reference Librarian - State Library
Reader Development Programs Officer - State Library
Secondary School Library Manager
Community Development Librarian - Public Library
(Including partnership programs with schools/community and local history projects)
Librarian Trainer for a health library in regional PNG
Information Manager for a museum in regional PNG
Museum Programs Development Officer with museums in regional Vietnam
Knowledge manager for a cultural heritage / human rights NGO in Vietnam
Information Management Officer for a high profile international organisation in Kosovo

There are times where I feel like I'm following a winding path up a mountain, in the hope that there's a way down on the other side. It's hard work at times, but right now, the view is spectacular.