Welcome back to the Independent Ideas summer series, Origin Stories.
Today, Claire Hazzard, from St. Clement’s School in Toronto, shares how she found librarianship.
Like most other AISL librarians, I’ve always loved to read. I was the kid who always had a book (or four) on the go; I’d devour series voraciously, I’d borrow countless volumes from the local public library, and I volunteered in my high school library. Yet actually becoming a librarian never really occurred to me until I was in university. My final year research project (I studied Geology at the University of Keele) was a mapping exercise in the Conwy area of North Wales. Back on campus, I started my secondary research and was immediately drawn into the world of old maps, spending vast amounts of time in the map library, and realizing that curating a collection like this was what I might want to do.
At this time, students applying to postgraduate MLS programs in the UK were required to have completed some practical work in a library. Many universities ran graduate training programs, and I was lucky to be hired to work at King’s College, part of the University of London. This placement was a wonderful introduction to the world of libraries. I worked in four different branches across the service, experienced all facets of the library world (user education, periodicals, electronic resource management roll out, acquisitions, cataloging, book repair to name but a few), and was lucky enough to be actively involved in a new build project that saw six smaller libraries move and merge to one central location. King’s also allowed trainees to continue working part-time whilst completing a Masters in Librarianship; I took my MA part-time over two years at the University of North London (now London Met). How I loved Library School – lectures about classification, theory of knowledge, and Ranganathan’s Five Laws, field trips to the British Library, and sitting in the King’s courtyard reading academic papers at lunchtime, discussing library issues with King’s friends who were also studying part-time.
After graduating I wasn’t sure what area of librarianship I wanted to enter, and it was at a time in Britain when library jobs were rather scarce. I took a couple of short contract jobs, one in a hospital library, and one helping a university research group archive and organize their information. And then I moved to Canada, when my husband was offered a job in Toronto.
On arrival in Canada, I took some short-term administrative work to help pay the bills whilst I looked for my dream job. That short term position was at St. Clement’s School, in the guidance department. The same year, the school’s long-standing and much-loved librarian retired. I applied for the position, and here I am, twelve years and two maternity leaves later. Throughout my career I have benefited from being in the right place at the right time; you really don’t ever know what is around the corner.
I love my job. Most days I can’t get from the library to the school office to pick up the mail without six people asking me what I’m reading, and sharing their own reading picks. My inner reader is in heaven. And I still have at least four books on the go at any given time…
Need a refresher on Ranganathan’s Five Laws? Click here.
We are still collecting Origin Stories and would love to hear from you. If you would like to share yours (500 words or less) please send it to Allison Peters Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org