While there are women in my life who have influenced me beyond measure, there are just a few specific women who led me to my career as a librarian.
The Big Boss - She's in charge of the library where I work. No, she's in charge of the library SYSTEM. She's been a librarian for over thirty years, and she has risen gradually to the top, but she's no devil wearing Prada. Actually, she's probably one of the nicest people I've ever met, coupled with just enough sarcasm to let you know that she's genuine. I was her assistant, and while I hated being an assistant, I never hated assisting her. When I saw that she was a librarian and in charge of building new libraries, meeting with high-ranking officials and otherwise making big changes in our community, I knew that I wanted to pursue a library career. She works way more than forty hours a week but still has time to meet with friends, have a couple of attention-needing cats and is happy with herself and her life. She's also one of the most graceful people under pressure. She won't give in to frustration. She never once slammed down the phone. She might tell me to take a message if someone on her "list" called, but she would never think of cussing someone out or causing a scene. She is graceful, gracious and genuine, and it was an honor to work for her.
The Wacky YA - This woman made me want to become a Young Adult Librarian. I was wavering on deciding on academic librarianship (though if anyone in the public library asks, I won't mention that little blip in my decision making process), children's librianship or young adult librarianship. But the Wacky YA? Oh, she made the decision easy. She invited me into a committee meeting just to "observe." Later she told me that it was her alterior motive to recruit me to the YA side of things. She cares a tremendous amount about the teens with which she works, but she also keeps a nice perspective on things. She knows that she's fast approaching 40, wears crocs and has two kids under the age of six. She's no teenager, anymore, and she never tried to be. But she always avoided being a stoic, strict librarian. She is perky and sarcastic and friendly and hopeful. Now, she has made the decision to be an on-call librarian, so that she can spend more time being a mom while her kids are young, and while I miss her tremendously, I applaud her decision. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't mind being her when I grow up.
The School Librarian - Although I met this woman in my first month as a librarian, she seems to think that I'm her mentor, but it's quite the opposite. While I can indoctrinate her on some of the basics of collection development, she teaches me to be rebellious, to come out of my shell and try something different. Watching her with her students, I realize that I need to make an effort to actually talk to the teens in my library, to make them feel welcome, to get to know them a little bit. Granted, that's harder in a public library, but still, watching her work makes me want to be outlandish and completely open to what it means to be a YA Librarian. There are parts of me that still want the teens to thing I'm cool...she's let that go and accepts that they think she's quirky and wonderful...and, of course, by letting it go, her cool factor rises exponentially.
Yep, those three have been my greatest career influences. Does it seem like I should have included a professor? I would like to, but I would be lying. While my professors taught my the skills of the job, it's the Big Boss, the Wacky YA and the School Librarian who taught me what it really means to be a librarian.