Monday, 17 September 2012

Thing 20: The Library Routes Project

This post was originally posted by Laura Woods as part of the 2011 programme.

This Thing is all about library careers.  I’m going to talk about the Library Routes Project, but recommend that you visit the Library Day in the Life project as well.

The Library Routes Project was set up in October 2009, following a lively conversation on my blog about how people get into librarianship. As a result of this conversation, Ned Potter (aka thewikiman) and I decided that it would be a good idea to set up a space where people could share these stories, and thus the Library Routes Wiki was born. Now, almost two years on, it has around 180 entries and has been visited over 39,000 times.

A photograph of a signpost and its shadow.
'every which way' by jenny downing on Flickr
The idea is simple: blog about your library roots (how and why you got into the profession in the first place) and your library routes (the career path you’ve taken so far), and add a link to the great big list on the front page of the wiki. The value of this is twofold: first of all, it is interesting! If you’re a nosy person like me, it’s great to be able to have a look through people’s career histories and reasons for becoming librarians in the first place. Secondly, we think it’s a useful careers resource for people either thinking about careers in librarianship or just starting out on their path.

I think the latter is particularly important because a common theme in the stories on the Library Routes wiki is that of not knowing much about what librarianship involved, or even that it existed as a career option; or being discouraged from pursuing a career in libraries by people who had misconceptions about the options available. Like many people, I fell into librarianship after trying my hand at other jobs that I wasn’t really suited to. Once a careers adviser suggested to me that librarianship was something I could actually do for a living, it was like a light bulb going off: why hadn’t I ever thought of it before? Well, the simple reason was that I just didn’t know that it was an option. My only clue as to what librarians did was the ladies I saw stamping books and shelving in my local public library. I suppose at some level I must have been aware that there was probably more to it than that, but I’d never have guessed at the sheer range of jobs available within the information profession. I know from reading the blogs linked from the wiki that mine is a fairly common story: unless you had a close friend or relative who worked in libraries, you probably didn’t have much of an idea of what the profession involved before you joined it. The Library Routes project is intended to shine a much-needed light on the types of jobs and career paths available within the information profession.

Things To Do
The main activity for this Thing is to blog your Roots/Routes, and add a link to the wiki. I know a lot of people did this for Thing 10, so if you’ve already done this stage then the additional activity is to go through some of the links already on the wiki and reflect on how they compare with your own experiences. Do you think your own path was typical or unusual compared to others? Have you got any advice for people at earlier stages in their careers than you, or can you glean some useful tips from other people’s posts?


  1. The Library Roots wiki project website is currently down (20th Sept, 08:30am). Is this me, temporary, or has it been down for a while?

  2. Hi Alyson, it's working for me now, maybe just a temporary thing?

  3. I was unable to post my link on the wiki. I registered, then hit the edit button, wrote my information in the same format as those above me, and hit save. Unfortunately it just won't take. Any suggestions?

  4. I did the same as Kendra and doesn't appear to work for me either!

  5. Did you answer the security question at the top of the page because I didn't notice it the first few times


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