I was a fairly serious child - when I was six I wanted to become an archeologist, by the age of eight this morphed, don't ask me how, into becoming a journalist, and by thirteen I wanted to be a barrister. God, I must have been obnoxious! My cousin, older and apparently according to my mother, cleverer than I failed to make it, so obviously I wouldn't either. Consequently a re-think was in order. I'd always used the library from a young age, though my experiences were not always happy with it. I remember one time when I got a book out early in the day, read it and then took it back. This was in the days of the old Brown system and I got a real telling off from the librarian because she had to hunt through all of the tickets to find mine because she hadn't sorted them yet.
This didn't entirely put me off though, and by the time I was sixteen I was determined to be a librarian. Not however because of the usual 'I love books' line. Oh no. Librarians I had discovered could find things. 'If you can find things that other people want, that's a fairly powerful position to be in' was my opinion (which hasn't changed either by the way) and so that was that. I did the usual student working in the college library while I did my A levels, and then took a year out (during which time I learned to touch type, which was one of the most sensible things I've ever done) before going to the Polytechnic of North London to do a degree in Librarianship. I took that course because it meant that I'd be able to stay at home - and in those days, not only did we get grants that we didn't have to pay back, we also had our travelling expenses paid!
The course was dire. It was really, really bad. It was a 3 year course, and in the first year we didn't do anything to do with librarianship. Not a thing. We did some sort of English course, which was interesting, a foreign language (either German or Russian, because 'that's what scientific papers are written in') and maths. I think there was also a bunch of other rubbish in there but conveniently I have forgotten it.
In the second year we did some librarianship. An hour a week of cataloguing with Tony Croghan (who terrified us all, but who was/is a really sweet interesting guy), an hour a week on classification with Derek Langridge, although it was basically all Facet - we did literally no more than a week each on things like Dewey, Bliss, LC and so on. I also had 3 hours a week on local history with Victor Newburg (and it really was about history, bugger all to do with librarianship) and a bunch of other stuff.
Insanely I chose to carry on and do a fourth year, which was an Honours year. I still have no idea why I did that other than it beat working. Consequently by the time I actually became Chartered it had taken me over 6 years. Almost as long as to become a doctor! Insane.
Best thing about the course was that I met Jill, and we married shortly afterwards. I can't hardly recall one useful thing that I got out of the course itself, but I did get on well with the lecturers - David Nicolas, John Eyre, David Phillips to name but a few. There were 50 on my course - 1978-1982 and almost all of them have disappeared. I tried to find 'em via Friends ReUnited, from net searches, and had a little success, but for the most part - vanished! (If you are one of 'em, and you're reading this - do get in touch!).
Of course, I then had to get a job. This wasn't easy, since I didn't know what I wanted to do, so fell into a temp position at the British Council, in their Central Information Service. I loved it there and had huge experience - travelling abroad, teaching, reference work and so on. However, by then I'd seen CD-ROM technology and knew it was going to be big, and I also knew that the BC wouldn't get around to it for years to come. (In fact a decade later I was invited out to Kenya to run a course on implimenting CD-ROM technology!)
I moved to SilverPlatter Inc, a CD-ROM publisher, as the Head of UK & European Technical Support. Keep in mind at this point I knew how to turn a PC on, but that was about it. I had a very steep learning curve, and managed to keep a step or two ahead of the librarians that I was helping. I did this for 5 years, discovering the Internet as I went. I got asked by TFPL to run some training courses on CD-ROM, and this then morphed into courses on the Internet and in the end all my time was spent either working or taking days off to work for myself. Something had to give!
In 1996 I left SilverPlatter and set up as an independent internet consultant, and that's what I've been doing ever since. Teaching, writing, talking about the internet to librarians is a dream job. I've been around the world twice, I've visited about 20% of the countries in the world and had some interesting experiences. (Get me a drink sometime and I'll tell you all about Turkey, Australia, Russia, and my adventures in the Far East. But I'm not writing 'em down, put it that way!)
Am I a librarian? I think so. Being a librarian is not a job, it's a passion and a vocation. Perhaps 'librarian' isn't the most accurate word, I think 'information professional' might work slightly better, but I'm not that fussy. I think I've got a great job - I play around on the net trying out new stuff, playing with it, writing and talking about it, teaching it to other people, and I get paid for it! Just how cool is that? And of course I get to spend time with other librarians as well. Wouldn't want it any other way.