I became a librarian due to the enormous benefit of having an engaged and passionate school librarian and a friendly and inspiring local public library as a child. As an undergraduate I strongly believed that learning information services and their commitment to enhancing information literacy were essential to gaining my degree and I continued to use the skills they promoted both as a postgraduate and now as a qualified librarian working in the public sector.
Contrary to recent media coverage the vast majority of us working in the public sector do not do so for the money or the belief that we have a “job for life”, we do so because we want to help, to contribute, to give back to society. I continue to work in public libraries because the library is almost the only place left in the community that gives a level playing field for spending leisure time. Public libraries are about providing equal access to all and the most important thing we do each day is put aside everything else for the few minutes it takes to have a conversation with someone who is lonely or isolated and in need of a friendly ear – and we don’t expect them to buy something in return.
Community is about that caring ear we lend and about noticing when an elderly person hasn’t been in for a few days and alerting someone – in the days of small shops being closed down by the ever present supermarkets let’s not lose what little sense of community we have left along with our precious libraries.