My Library Roots and Routes (Thing 20, CPD23)

On Thing 20 of the 23 Things for Professional Development blog, I learned about a wiki called the The LibraryRoutes Project, a place where librarians can share how they got to where they are now in Library Land. So, the assignment for this post is to do the same here.

My first library memories are of going to the Carnegie Library in my hometown. I remember going there with my mom, and Mrs. Blalock and Mrs. Herndon (I think that was her name) manned the circulation/reference desk. The photo below is courtesy of Wikipedia. (No, I’m not the little girl in the picture!) Now the Selma-Dallas County Library is much bigger, but the Carnegie Library below had its charm in the day.

In college, I used the libraries at Duke a lot, of course. The old card catalog was the way to search back then, but of course that’s gone now! I often studied in the “levels” of Perkins , different from the regular floors since they were part of an earlier building that’s part of the bigger library. (There have been additions over the years. The current “levels” were THE stacks in the part of the library built in 1948.)

When I got my first job after finishing at Duke, I don’t even think I got a local library card! Sad, isn’t it? But when I decided to go back to school  a couple years later to become a teacher, I got a job as a Student Assistant at the Circulation Desk of Jackson Library at UNC-G. I enjoyed that job, partly because of the people I worked with and the faculty and classmates I got to see outside of the class. Seeing the books that were checked out and returned was also a highlight.

One of my education professors at UNC-G actually planted the first seeds of library school! While I was in one of her classes, she asked for volunteers to work through an Apple IIe user’s manual that she’d written to be geared toward teachers. I whipped my hand up, and over the course of the next few weeks, I enjoyed my first introduction to computers. (My first session with the user’s manual in front of the Apple IIe lasted about 20 minutes, and ended in frustration because I couldn’t follow the first step, “Turn on the computer.” I couldn’t find the On button!) After that experience, Dr. Vacc suggested that if I ever decided to leave the elementary teaching profession, that I should consider going to library school! Voila!

I ended up staying in Greensboro for a total of 13 years and change, so I enjoyed the public library system there quite a bit! The cars I drove through much of that time had cassette players, so I got hooked on books on (cassette) tape borrowed from the Greensboro Public Library during that stretch. (Once I graduated from UNC-G, I did a lot of commuting to work during that time.)

After several years of teaching elementary school in Rockingham County, I got my first full-time library job as a library assistant at the Professional Center Library at Wake Forest University. Located in the Worrell Professional Center for Law and Management, the PCL serves both the law and business schools at Wake Forest. My first position there was at the Circulation Desk; later I transferred to Acquisitions, where I did ordering, invoicing, and eventually copy cataloging. I learned so much there, and the small staff was, in many ways, like a family! One of my highlights while there was getting to attend the 2000 Presidential Debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore held in Wait Chapel on the Wake Forest University campus.

After four years at the Professional Center Library, I moved to Durham to accept a library assistant position in the Acquisitions Department at Duke University Libraries. I was able to transfer a lot of what I learned at Wake Forest to Duke, which was a blessing. I really appreciated getting to learn so much in a professional school library setting before moving to a larger undergraduate setting.

In the 10 years since I arrived at Duke Libraries, I’ve become a supervisor of the unit I joined, and our unit has moved from Acquisitions to the Cataloging & Metadata Services Department. In more recent years, our department has moved from the main library to an off-site location in a renovated tobacco warehouse across campus. While I miss being within the library walls sometimes, I’m learning that libraries are no longer about just the brick and mortar. I’ve learned a lot more about e-Books and digital content in the past year, and continue to be amazed by the growth and breadth of those areas.

Now I’m in my first semester of library school at North Carolina Central University, and am enjoying it a lot so far! My library school plan is to do the coursework for both the Academic and the Digital Librarian tracks, so I can continue to apply what I learn in class to my work–and vice versa!


About Lesley Looper

I'm a full-time library employee. I enjoy reading, photography, travel, blogging, and geocaching.
This entry was posted in Beginnings, Librarians, Libraries, Library School, Library Science, Professional Development, Skills, Technology, Work and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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