My Library Route

Posted on May 6, 2011

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I thought it would be appropriate to start my blog off with a description of how I entered the library profession……

Libraries and reading feature quite prominently in my childhood memories. I was a member of my local public library in (Newton Abbot) Devon from an early age and can remember taking part in their Book Track scheme, whereby children read a book and then chat about what they have read to a librarian and receive badges as reward. Book Track definitely encouraged me to read more as I wanted to reach the target of 100 books to get the shiny (imitation!) gold badge. I am pleased to see that by looking at their website book track seems to be continuing today, more information can be found here. As a teenager without a computer or internet access at home, public libraries became even more important to me as a place where I could complete my homework tasks.

Whilst at sixth form I volunteered in the school library for a few hours a week doing tasks such as: shelving books, tagging books and helping students use the library. During this time I narrowly missed out on a Saturday job as a junior library assistant at a local public library. Looking back it should have been obvious to me that the library profession was where I wanted to be but my 18 year old self missed this and I went to the University of the West of England to study psychology.

Psychology is a very research based degree and as I neared the end of my degree in 2009 I realised that one of the aspects of the degree that I had particularly enjoyed was the researching. Whilst at university I had also volunteered on their ‘Silver Surfer’ project which aims to teach elderly residents of Bristol how to use the internet. This was an excellent experience and really bought home to me how useful information is and how much I take my information finding skills for granted. So when university finished and I had to venture into the real world I decided to look for a library related job.

I was really lucky. I managed to get a graduate trainee position in a health library which was a library sector I had little knowledge of but linked quite well to my psychology degree. Graduate trainee posts are available in various libraries and more information about them can be found on CILIP’s website here. While a graduate trainee I was able to enjoy lots of responsibilities such as: staffing the enquiries desk; helping library users; registering and inducting new users; processing new book and journal stock; liaising with other libraries over inter-library loans; producing a monthly topical display board; maintaining library statistics; administering the lending service and administering NHS Athens access for the South West region. The graduate trainee post allowed me to get a proper insight into librarianship and led to me applying for a place on the MA in Librarianship course offered at the University of Sheffield.

Although I cannot say that the MA at the University of Sheffield has been easy it has definitely been (mostly!) enjoyable. I have met a lot of interesting people and studied modules that are relevant to librarianship today. It has given me a deeper understanding of librarianship and has encouraged me to think about the wider issues that are impacting librarianship in the world today. We have also had some thought provoking trips to libraries in different library sectors with the most memorable being a trip to Doncaster Prison Library.

Currently, I am nearing the end of the taught part of the MA and will be leaving Sheffield in a month to start work as an assistant librarian at the health library where I was a graduate trainee. I am sure that my new job will bring lots of new challenges but I am excited to start my first professional post. I hope to document my move from library school student to assistant librarian in this blog.

For those of you interested in starting a career in librarianship I refer you to thebradfordlibrarians blog post here which includes useful tips for people starting out.

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