Saturday, November 03, 2007

Singapore Library Week: I don't Shhh! for a Living

Picture for Singapore Library Week 2007Ivan Chew
Adult & Young People Services
National Library Board

I don’t “Shhh!” for a living.

Although I wish I did.

That would be the easiest job in the world. Shushing people. Index finger to lips. Pucker and Shhh! Get paid. Easy-peasy.

But it's a good thing I don't.

IvanChew Link
[How I look in my SecondLife]

For one, wrinkles form more easily if one puckers the lips too much (guys are a little concerned about looks too!). Two, it'll be a boring and meaningless excuse for a job.

For me, librarianship (public librarianship, to be specific) is a calling. Not in the religious sense but closer to a philosophically of why we do what we do.

As a public librarian, you wear many hats:
  • Retail or Sales Executive (you help people with their "purchase", advising them on what "product" to buy or use)
  • Marketing Executive (you publicise the library's services and products)
  • Event Manager (you organise programmes and activities)
  • Trainer (you conduct workshops)
  • Talkshow host (you chair programmes and events; facilitate book discussions)
  • Administrative Executive (reports to write; you may have to manage budgets)
  • Inventory or Store Manager (you are part of the process in managing the library materials to be added or removed)
  • Security Officer (you look after the safety and well-being of those who use your premises)
  • Customer Relations Executive (you deal with customers, both the nice and not-so-nice ones)
  • Project Manager (you organise and lead projects; you most certainly work in teams)
  • Researcher (you answer reference enquiries and help customers search for information)
  • Writer (you write book reviews)
  • Coach (you might end up mentoring or leading staff)
  • Customer (you read; you have to; enough said).

Picture for Singapore Library Week 2007
[How I look in my "First Life"]

Picture for Singapore Library Week 2007
[Why I share: Because each time I teach, I also learn]

Picture for Singapore Library Week 2007
[I looked blur then. And still do now.]

See? I wish I'd only Shhhed people for a living.

With so many things to do, why did I stick with being a librarian for the last 11 years?

Because in simple terms, I think I'm contributing some good to society. It's a nice feeling.

Better than pursing one's lips.


  1. Any opening for me?

  2. This post makes me want to mid career switch!

  3. Applications are open at the NLB Careers page (go to :)

  4. Anonymous11:05 pm

    nice snapshot of a life spent doing important work, ivan. here's to the next 11 years!

  5. hey ivan! you were too early! haha...
    the blog on the excursion is up! haha

  6. No wonder our libraries so noisy :)

  7. i love your second life self. isn't it fun to be someone you're not?!! i am just so hot in that incarnation ... but i guess not so much in ahem "meat-space"

    the world needs librarians!


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