Thursday, January 24, 2013
50 Years of Working in Libraries
This month marks a significant personal anniversary for me. Fifty years ago this month I took a job at the Nashville (TN) Public Library (see library history), and as they say, the rest is library history. It was only by chance that I got the job as a library clerk/page. I had put in a generic application for a job with the City of Nashville several months before, and was surprised when I got a call from the public library asking me if I would be interested in working at the library. I started work in the historic Carnegie library building (shown in the postcards above), but that only lasted a few months before the library moved to temporary quarters while the Carnegie was razed and a new building was built. At the time I was a sophomore at Peabody College, and I ended up working at the public library through the summer following my graduation from Peabody. My experience at the Nashville Public Library was the major reason I became a librarian. At the time Peabody had an ALA accredited library school and I was able to take four core library science courses as an undergraduate before going to the University of Illinois for graduate library school. Over the course of the two and a half years that I worked at the Nashville Public Library I performed almost every task you can perform in a library from mending books to working on the reference desk. It was a true apprenticeship. An unusual aspect of working at the library was the arrangement that permanent full time employees only worked during week days and a part-time crew worked at night and on the weekends. At least two of my fellow part-time workers went on to hold significant library administrative positions. The children's librarian, the only professional librarian on duty in the evening, later became director of the Nashville Public Library. It was a great starting position in library work and it was an experience I will always treasure.