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Aug 10 / Philip Zupon

The Long Hard Path To Becoming A Librarian – Part I

As a child growing up, you could say that I was a true “library kid” or “library geek.” From the time I was four -years old, I was going to my local small town library with my mother on a weekly basis to check out children’s stories and other books on cars, trucks, machines, and other interests of mine at that age. By the time I was a teenager, while other young boys my age were outside playing roller-hockey or indoors playing Nintendo games, I was walking or riding my bike to the library on my own to entertain myself by reading whatever books and magazines that I could find on my favorite subjects that amused me.

Being a “library geek” wasn’t the only way that I was different from everyone else my age. When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism (HFA); which is essentially equivalent to what we now know as Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). Thanks to an early diagnosis and dedicated parents who completely devoted themselves to finding all of the best treatments that they could at the time to help me overcome my disability, I have been able to overcome my Autism and almost all of the difficulties and hardships that it once caused me. Believe me; it took a lot of hard work on my part too! I had nineteen years of speech and language pathology that lasted into my early adulthood. Every bit of those nineteen years of therapy has helped me in some of the most critical areas of my life from having everyday conversations with people to writing my college reports and research papers. Moreover, I can still remember as a child that I had a terrible time dealing with changes in my daily routine and environment. When my family moved from West Michigan to the Detroit area, the experience for me was nothing short of traumatic. Now I marvel at the fact that I have lived on my own on two different university campuses for a total of five of my twelve years in college and I am now even considering relocating out of state to pursue better employment opportunities. I have also been driving for ten years as of recently. So as you can see, my local public library played an even deeper role in life than simply providing me with a place to go and read for a while. As I sat alone at the library reading about favorite interests, I was dreaming about how I would conquer and overcome my disability so that I could live the same kind of life that all of my peers were dreaming of living when they grew up to be adults. I was determined to graduate from high school, learn to drive, live independently, graduate with two degrees from college, and pursue a career of my choice. Most importantly, I was determined to learn to be more outgoing and less socially awkward so that I could make friends and relate to people on an everyday basis. As of now, I have achieved the first five of my above six life goals and I am currently working on conquering the sixth.

Why do I use such strong, war-like words like conquer when referring to pursuing my career of choice? Simply because I have had to work so hard to do many of the things that come so natural to many others. My decision to become a librarian has certainly been no exception. It was not my original intention to turn my love of libraries into a career. If I had intended to become a librarian from the start, I know for a fact that I would have spent the same amount of time reading every book that my local library had on libraries and how they function that I spent reading about fighter planes, Franz Liszt, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Instead, my childhood career aspirations were to be an aerospace engineer, a concert pianist and composer, or an architect. By the time I had entered college, I had discovered that aerospace engineering and music were not viable full-time career options for me if I wished to have a job in which I made enough money to live independently. So I decided to become an architect. However, when the post 9/11 economic slump did not recover, I realized that that there would not be many jobs for architects because the building industry rises and declines with the economy. It was time to look for another career to pursue. At that time that my parents and a few other family friends began to encourage me to consider becoming a librarian.

Actually, I had briefly considered becoming librarian after my second year at community college when I was greatly struggling with college physics and calculus. I had talked to two librarians at my local library and had asked them what educational requirements were necessary to become a librarian. I was surprised when they told me that you basically had to have a Master’s Degree in Library Science and that you could get your Bachelor’s degree in any subject that you wanted. At the time, this sounded like a relatively easy career path compared to the six years of difficult courses that I knew I would have to take just to get my Bachelor’s degree in Architecture; plus the tests required to become a registered architect. So when I began looking for other career fields to go into besides architecture, the idea of becoming a librarian quickly came back to me. After all, if I loved to visit libraries to look up my topics of interest, why would I not love being the librarian who helped other people discover the resources that would help them learn more about things that they were passionate about? From the time that I was little, everyone kept telling me that I was a “walking encyclopedia.” I could not think of a better job for a person with that gift than being a librarian. To be sure that I was headed in the right direction, I interviewed two other librarians, one at my community college and another at another public library near where I lived. Both confirmed that I needed a Master’s Degree in Library Science. They also convinced me that being a librarian was a relatively secure profession in spite of the rise of the internet. With this information in mind, I quickly switched my associate major from architecture to liberal arts and graduated from Oakland Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts. In the fall of that very same year, I enrolled in the History undergraduate program at Oakland University.


« Introduction

Part II »