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8 People Share Why They Became Librarians

Archival photo of a librarian and assistant behind a desk

We asked the American Library Association’s social media followers and newsletter subscribers for their stories about deciding to become a librarian. Here are a few of our favorites:

“My mother was a school librarian and I can remember the countless days we spent as kids in her school library after school and during the summer, just being around books. I also had a church mentor who was the director of the public library and hired me as a part time page in high school and then later as a children’s librarian once I got my master’s degree. They both stand out as shining examples of librarianship and have encouraged me to greater heights with my own librarianship goals and passions.”—Jeana L.

“I worked in a Title I elementary school with no library and limited access to books for students. In creating and curating a classroom library for my students, I discovered a passion for bringing a love of reading to others. There is nothing like watching a child connect with an author, character, or story. Young students have a thirst for knowledge and love reading. My job is to foster that love and keep it alive and burning as students progress to later grades.”—Peter D.

“The philosophies libraries represent, especially for children, are what drove me to this field. Libraries are a place of stories, belonging, and discovery. They show children what is out there and what they can become. Now, more than ever, children need stories with characters that persevere through hopeless circumstances. They need community support through creative programming and outreach. They need to see that their interests are also their gifts that can guide them through their own pursuit of knowledge and self-discovery. All people at any age need to know their worth, and the more connected they are with themselves the more they see their potential.”—Rebecca K.

“I had a literal lightbulb moment, where I realized that everything else I had done with my life had prepared me for the path of librarianship. I had always loved and used libraries, but no one has ever suggested that I pursue it as a career. I was lucky enough to work on a special project with some talented academic librarians, and I realized I wanted to be them! Looking back, it was always the perfect marriage of my talents and interests…I just needed to recognize it.”—Megan S.

“When I was a kid my family didn’t have a lot of money. One day my dad took me to our local public library and signed me up for a library card. Diane, the librarian, took all my information and gave me my card. When I asked how many books I could take out she looked at me over the rim of her glasses and said gravely, ‘You could take out a hundred if you want.’ My eight-year old heart nearly stopped in my chest. Never in my life had I had a hundred of anything, let alone books, which were my all-consuming obsession. My dad said she was joking, but Diane wasn’t laughing, and over the years she encouraged my love of reading and of libraries. She was the first of many librarians in my life who made libraries seem like generous and open places where I could explore the world and myself. In an effort to continue this exploration I became a librarian.”—Shevaun R.

“The library was the magical place for me as a child. It was my work study assignment in college (part of my financial aid package). I found I always felt safe and happy at the library. I wanted to provide that excitement and security to others.”—Dianne F.

“My mother inspired me to become a librarian—only neither one of us realized it while I was growing up! I vividly remember my mother’s graduation ceremony when she earned her master’s degree in library science. I was in second grade, and I remembered being awed by the ceremony and at that moment, fully understanding why she had spent all those Saturdays away at school. She then transformed our K-12 school library, which had been just books on the floor (literally!), into a real school library. I grew up in that school library, helping my mother with the shelf list each summer, stamping books and magazines, and repairing damaged books. When I was in 6th grade, I even created my own card catalog (out of index cards) for my own mini-library of books and magazines—because that was normal in my family! But I didn’t realize that I could, or wanted to be a librarian, too, until my first year in college. I had signed up to be a work study in my college library, and through that first year, more and more of my classmates came into the library to ask me questions about research. Of course, I redirected them to the actual librarians, because I knew their value and role! But then one day, I had a light bulb moment: that I, too, could become a librarian. And when that thought switched on in my brain, it felt like all the mental puzzle pieces of my life fell into place, and I knew it was the right path for me. My mother, who is now retired, and I still laugh about this, and we still talk about librarianship and how it’s changed—and how it hasn’t! I am so proud to be a second-generation librarian.”—Jennifer S.B.

“I loved the idea of spending my life encouraging children and teens to grow in confidence and empathy through reading great books. I also wanted to help students learn to search for what is true. So I became a school librarian.”—Mary B.

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