Well, Walt Crawford did not tag me, but I am going to take up both parts of his challenge. I will answer the question, and also, like my semi-hero Walt, not "tag" anyone. I am again behind in reading my feeds, but so far I have read the posts from Iris, Rikhei, and Steve Lawson.
My answer is short: Miss (Betty) Osborn and Mrs. Carson.
As a child I spent a lot of time at the library and reading. Miss Osborn was the children's librarian, and took an interest in me. She later became the Library Director, and hired me as a page/shelver. The longer I was there, the more responsibilities she gave me. She talked about professional association activities and was active in the New England Library Association. She went to the (now legendary) annual conferences at Wentworth-by-the-Sea.
Mrs. Carson was my supervisor at my financial aid provided job in the library at Brown. I started in the Biological Sciences Library which, in the December of my freshman year moved into a new building with the Physical Sciences Library -- the now Sciences Library. I guess because I was willing to work hard and work more, I got to be part of the team which helped get all the books on the right floors. (We were integrating the collections.)
As I stuck it out over the years, I was given more responsibility. By the end of my four years, I was often in charge of the service desks for the last couple of hours of operation. All my supervisors encouraged me. Mrs. Carson wrote a letter of recommendation when I was applying to schools and for the NELA scholarship (which I did *not* get). I had the opportunity a couple of times to go back and thank her for her support.
I started grad school one week to the day after my graduation from college. From there on it has been a straight shot. Although there were times when I thought about, and even explored, other options. But none of them felt as "right" as librarianship.
Once working in libraries, I knew I wanted to become a Library Director. I wondered why some decisions were made the way they were. I wanted to have some of that control. I also wanted to share why things are the way they are with my staff. So, back in 1985 when I had the opportunity, I jumped and became a director. It was a small enough library that during my tenure there I worked the circ desk to pitch in, and worked regular shifts on the reference desk.
I left that position and took one running a multi-type library organization. It is what has taken me away from direct public service, but that was an incredible learning experience about other types of libraries, and gave me the opportunity (and push) to become involved in professional associations. Since then, I have been the director of large enough libraries that I do not work the desk. Let's face it, while I still have the customer service skills, I no longer have the technical skills, and don't have the time to learn them.
I love being a director. It fits my personality and style. I get to be out in the community talking about the library and what we can do. I do advocacy on a daily basis, and love it. I cannot picture myself doing anything else -- except maybe teaching how to do this.
[Note: I could not get Walt's blog to come up...I got the address for the hot link from the cached version in Yahoo!]