My name is Amber and I’m currently living and working in Sheffield. I am studying towards an MA Librarianship qualification and I am also working part-time in the university library as a Weekend Services Assistant. I have a twitter account where I primarily tweet about libraries and football (two very varied interests) …
How did you first get into the information and library profession?
I first became interested in pursuing a career in librarianship through spending a huge amount of time in my university library in Aberdeen. I would often find myself helping my friends to use the library who didn’t use it quite as frequently as I did, and I ended up developing more and more of an interest in it. I decided to look into how to get into the career and I found the CILIP website which advertised the graduate schemes. At the time of looking, they did not have any positions advertised, so I began frantically checking every day. I ended up emailing CILIP to ask for more information about them, and I was assured that positions would start appearing nearer Christmas. I ended up applying for around 10 different graduate schemes, and I was either rejected or didn’t hear anything back from all but the University of Essex, where I had an interview and was offered the job. It was a fantastic year…I learned so much and made some great friends and I decided I wanted to pursue library work further and decided to apply to the University of Sheffield for their MA Librarianship course. I am now about half way through it, and it is so intense and such hard work but I am really enjoying it, and I have met some really great people.
What qualifications are you taking?
MA Librarianship at the University of Sheffield.
What else are you doing alongside your qualification?
I have recently successfully completed my CILIP Certification qualification which involved creating an online portfolio. It was a difficult process to get my head around, and it turns out I was doing it wrong for half the year, but I ended up attending a portfolio building workshop in the East of England CILIP group and it was really helpful. I eventually got back on track and completed it and found out I had passed which made me really happy.
I am trying to learn French in my spare time which is quite a challenge, especially since I studied Spanish at school. I often feel like I’m not making any progress but I’m trying to persevere with it.
I’m also interested in running and raising money for Huntington’s Disease Association. I am taking part in the Sheffield Half Marathon in April which I am both dreading and looking forward to. I’m just hoping to make it to the finish line!
What does your job involve?
I am working as a Weekend Services Assistant across two library sites in the University of Sheffield. This involves finding books on the shelves students have requested, and satisfying them on the Alma management system. It also involves answering questions on a library help desk which can be both very simple and challenging at the same time. I then have to log these enquiries using LibAnswers. The job is nice to have alongside studying for the Librarianship degree as It provides a good backdrop for everything I am learning in class.
Can you describe a “typical week”?
A typical week for me involves around 10-12 hours of class time at university, and on average 11 hours a week at work. It involves spending a lot of time studying and completing assignments outside of class time, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life with my friends. It often involves a lot of exercise and a lot of eating, and a lot of playing FIFA and watching football on TV.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their studies?
I would advise a new student to definitely read around the course first to gain a head start before starting the course. I have found the course can be quite overwhelming and this is something I wish I’d have done. I would also definitely recommend trying to gain some experience working in the LIS profession (whether paid or voluntary) before undertaking the degree; it is great to have something to relate it to and to visualise what everything means. I would recommend organising your time well (something I always fail to do), as it can be very important when deadlines creep up on you all at once.
What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professionals?
I think it is very important to remain open-minded in your job as you will encounter a whole range of different things which might not necessarily be what you agree with. I think patience is a hugely beneficial quality and will go a long way, especially when working in customer service facing roles; it is worth remembering that something which seems really simple to an LIS professional is not always the case with library users. I think information literacy skills are increasingly important and I think having a willingness to help and demonstrate these skills to others are essential qualities to any LIS professional.