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I pass these 3 ceramic statues every week on my bike ride to teach my yoga class. They’re public art and they live in Greys Park in South Vancouver. And every week they make me smile! Someone even knit a red heart on the fence behind the statue of the boy and girl kissing (awwww!).

 

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The whole reason I quit my job and went to library school was because I have been in love with the public library for some time, both its physical locations and its open services. It allows everybody, no matter who you are or how little money you have, free access to information and technology.

I am currently looking for work in the public libraries, and I have found librarians to be some of the most open and generous people. I wrote to one of my teachers from library school who is a librarian and management at the Vancouver Public Library and she was generous enough to sit down with me, give me suggestions and ideas of what to do now, and tell me about the happenings in the public library system. For the first time since I graduated a year and a half ago, I remember why I want to work in public libraries and why it’s worth it to keep looking for a job in one. I’ve also had super positive responses from other librarians I’ve written to, who have never met me, offering their time and expertise and encouraging words.

I love the public library because it’s where I spent hours of my life doing my school work for university and where I spent hours hiding out when I was in high school. It’s a community meeting place and neighbourhood landmark. You can borrow books and DVD’s and music CD’s that you may not be able to afford to buy. I think public libraries are one of the very few government funded projects that actually benefit all of us, from programs for recent immigrants, programs for kids and teens, as well as endless resources available at no cost. Sure, getting hired as a librarian in one feels right now like trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood, but in the long term, it’s a career that’s worthwhile and ever changing.

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I ended up in library school quite by accident. I had been working in a good union job for the past 10 years with a pretty good wage and great benefits, but I was always complaining about my job. One day my friend, who is a librarian and had gone to SLAIS at UBC, told me I should apply to library school. She loved her job and thought I’d like it, too. I applied and I got in. It all happened pretty fast. So I quit my job and went back to school.

I’ve been thinking lately how smart everyone I went to SLAIS with was. Really smart. We were all mostly older (I think our class age average was 33) and half of us already had a master’s degree. The program wasn’t competitive, meaning we weren’t competing for a certain number of “A”’s. As a result, there were always other students around who were happy to help me any time,  especially with the computer stuff (like building a website). And group projects were a dream – everybody would actually do their work and do a really good job (unlike most undergrad experiences). I met some great people, like this gang, who I’m still friends with.

It occurred to me only recently that library school is still an arts degree, although it’s given its own discipline. Completing the degree is one thing, but having the right connections when you’re out to actually get hired is another thing. It’s like my undergrad in sociology. I have it, but nobody really cares because I don’t have any connections in places where I could put that knowledge to use.

I thought my MLIS was a practical career choice, but it turns out my Yoga Teacher Training was much more practical and has actually led me to paid work. Although, I have to admit that I was convinced leaving library school that I was not getting a job because, although we weren’t competitive in the program, we would be competing out in the real world for very rare librarian jobs. And if we got a job, then we should be ready and willing to include “justifying our job to the boss on a daily basis” as part of our job description, and even then, it would probably get cut eventually. I also have to admit that as fabulous and amazing as all the librarian’s we had in to teach our classes were, they worked hard! And they worked long. They put their all into their careers, which is awesome, it’s just not how I want to work. I finished library school the same time I finished my yoga teacher training program and I decided to go the yoga route. I still hope to find some kind of casual or part-time library work, but right now, teaching yoga is my focus.

In looking for paid work now, I keep in mind the Rudolf Rocker quote,

“I am not an anarchist because I believe anarchism is the final goal, I am an anarchist because there is no such thing as a final goal”.

No matter what work I do, I want to be engaged in the process of that work, rather than focusing on how much money it pays me or where it can lead, because if I’m not enjoying the work, then what’s the point? The process, and being in this moment, is all that matters.