Returning to school, a fabulous opportunity

book open with middle pages in the shape of heart

By Julie McCann - Library & Information Technician, 2013

Going back to school while working full-time and raising a child is a challenge; it is also a fabulous opportunity.

If someone would have told me when I was in my early twenties, graduating from a Business program, that I would take distance education classes in my forties for library technician studies I would have looked at them as though they had three heads. It simply was not a direction I planned on going then, and as a young person, I thought I had my life journey all planned out.

Life does throw some interesting curve balls, and when I applied to work at our municipal library and was hired full-time, I was grateful to simply have a job. There were few opportunities open in my field, and I thought it would be temporary until I found something else.

Almost two decades later, I am still working at the Municipal library, and have worn many hats over the years. I’ve worked in circulation and the children’s department (we call it YAC – young adult and children’s services). I did children’s programs, and story time and loved it. One day I was asked to help a class with their science projects. Intrigued by the research, I realized I wanted more. I took library courses through Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS). They would send my coursework in big brown envelopes, and an instructor called me once a week. This was how distance education was then. After receiving my certificate, I applied and was hired into the Information Services Department. There I saw the introduction of the public internet stations, our library catalogue was now online, (no more DOS). From there the changes to come were fast and furious.

Our CEO at that time was a teacher librarian, and he approached me about getting a master’s degree. I was raising a young child alone so that wasn’t an option for me. He suggested I start with a library technician program, and go from there. I found Mohawk’s online courses, and was delighted. Through these courses I was able to communicate with students like myself, learn fresh insights, and apply my new computer skills in the workplace. I also fell in love with something I had never considered: cataloguing!

It was, despite my occasional disagreements with Dewey, something I truly enjoyed doing. It must have been meant to be, because just as I graduated from Mohawk, our lead cataloguer announced her retirement. Some days I miss Information Services and the research, especially the genealogy, but I love my job. I take a lot of pride in it, as we do not receive our books pre-catalogued. It is a stub record, and the rest is our work. It is different every day and never boring.

This post previously appeared on the Alumni Blog on July 15, 2016.

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