August 25, 2008

How I became a librarian meme

(Sneakin' one in under the hiatus blanket...) First outright tag for a meme - tagged by Christina! Thanks! Started by Jill, the question was what got us interested initially in our fields of interest? Lemme 'splain... no, that would take too long. Lemme sum up...

I've always been in and around libraries (my mom was a career librarian until her retirement last year; my dad was career Air Force so we were always on the move, but wherever we were, there was a library). I fell in love with astronomy in 7th grade Earth Science and knew I'd be in the sciences one way or another when I grew up (I read my first copy of Jastrow & Thompson when I was 15). I originally went to college on an Air Force scholarship to study aerospace engineering, but a game of ultimate frisbee gone really wrong ended those plans, and I switched my study focus to astronomy, which is what I wanted to study in the first place (I will always miss Dr. Tom Swihart, my most excellent advisor). I landed a student job at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, which led to my first post-college job with the Mt. Graham International Observatory. I moved from there to the new Gemini 8m Telescopes Project (which became the Gemini Observatories when it went operational), and one of the things that I took on was managing the engineering documentation.

I really got a kick out of it, and was also contemplating going back to school - these two things finally clicked together and I headed down the street a couple of blocks to the School of Information Resources and Library Sciences. I met with Dr. Charley Seavey, who became my advisor, and it's all thanks to him that I even made it through, as the philosophy and social epistemology stuff really threw me off (I did great in statistics, though!). But make it through I did, with a focus on technical librarianship (fairly new at that point, this was back in '97-'99), and I graduated with a job offer in-hand from the Gemini Observatory in Hilo (Hawaii) to come out and set up the new research library. I jumped in the deep end at that point - up until then it'd all been databases and engineering archives!

Although I will always treasure the time I spent in Hawaii, the two years I spent out there setting up and managing a traditional library really brought home to me that I was much happier in the computers - webmastering, DBAing, things like that - and with engineering documentation. When the time came to move back to the mainland, I looked around at other large astronomy engineering projects, and hit up my current employer for a job. (Obviously, it worked.) I love being part of something no one's ever done before, and the skills I've built along the way have made me especially suited to dealing with both scientists and engineers, managing various electronic documentation systems, juggling configuration management issues, and configuring new web site management systems. That's what I spend my days doing now; I do order an occasional book, and snag journal papers and conference proceedings for the scientists and engineers, but I'm quite happy in my life as a systems librarian and intend to do so for many more years :-)

OK, so that's a bit long for a sum-up, but believe me, it's shorter than the whole story! I'd be interested in answers from Hedgie, G, Emily, Stephen, and Effing, if they'd like.

3 comments:

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

Okay...this explains the Hawaiian shirts (which look fabulous on you)!

The.Effing.Librarian said...

how I became a...
http://lisnews.org/listen_lisnews_org_podcast_episode_30
go to about the 2:12 mark.

Joe said...

Ok, here is mine...

http://lis4375.wordpress.com/2008/08/27/how-i-became-a-librarian-meme/