My journey into libraries began when I was a little girl. My mother would check books out for me when I was sick, or when I was bored over summer vacation. She would bring the books to me and I would look at the covers first, to see if it was something I might be interested in. I did not realize at this point in my young life that judging books by their covers is a big no-no (although I will admit this issue has bled into my adult life, but at least I am aware of my problem and I admit it!). Of course, I would read the ones with the pretty or funny covers first, and then if I had time left before they were due, I would read the ones that were leftover. This is how I was introduced to wonderful books such as Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards, There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom and Sideways Stories from Wayside School, both by Louis Sachar.
My love of reading dwindled a bit in high school since I was forced to read books that I did not particularly want to read. I remember barely getting through The Grapes of Wrath and The Old Man in the Sea. To this day, if you suggest to me that I read these again because maybe I might enjoy them a second time around I will quickly tell you, “No thank you!” The few times I went to the library in high school was when I needed to do research for papers, or to meet a group for a project. It was not until my senior year in college that I remembered that public libraries existed for reasons other than research papers. Finally living on my own, I checked out books on learning how to cook, because no one teaches you that in music school. The books sat in my bedroom for months before I remembered I had them. It is never a good thing when you find library books that you do not remember checking out. Let me just say that my library fines were quite hefty.
After getting my undergraduate degree, I did what any post-graduate with a music degree does, I moved back in with my parents. Having a violin performance degree does not automatically qualify you for many jobs, which I quickly found out, and playing with small local symphonies does not pay the bills. My mother suggested I look on the county library system website for a job and I gratefully accepted a part-time position as a library assistant at one of the biggest public library branches in Charlotte, NC. I was not sure why this idea had not occurred to me in the first place, but I took her suggestion and ran with it and I have been running with it ever since. I loved working for the public library back then, and I enjoy my work in an academic library now in Johnson City, TN. It took me applying to library graduate school (Drexel University), being accepted, taking three quarters of course work and then transferring to a different library school (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) before I realized where my passion really is: music librarianship. I cannot remember what I was doing, or where I was when the proverbial light went off over my head, but I do know that my life was meant for something like this.
Music is what I love, first and foremost, and always. Music librarianship is how I want to share my love for music and books with other people. Of course, I am not finished with school, so those ideas could change over the course of the next two years. I love reading children’s books, and one of my favorite memories of working in a public library is discussing books with children to find out why they love to read. Can one be a music librarian AND a children’s librarian at the same time? Probably not, but I will need to see where my life takes me to find out which one I am meant for.
Alison DePollo is the Student Supervisor/Stacks Manager, Circulation Department at Sherrod Library, East Tennessee State University. email@example.com