Library School

Posted on May 14, 2011

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Time well spent?

I must admit that when I was first considering library school I was dubious as to whether taking a year away from work to attend library school would be a good investment in my future, especially as the LIS job market is not exactly flourishing at the moment.  However, after a few months working as a graduate trainee library assistant I realised that I did want to develop a career in librarianship and that the only real way to do this was to apply to library school. Now fast forward a few months and I am about to finish the taught part of my librarianship MA.  Reflecting on my time at library school has made me realise that the benefits of studying  MA Librarianship run deeper than being able to say to employers ‘look I have a professional qualification’. Below is a little overview of what I have gained from my time at library school.

An understanding of libraries and librarianship

This is an expected outcome of studying a Librarianship MA. However, really it is a credit to the lecturers whose knowledge and enthusiasm towards all things information related has kept the teaching engaging and current. I now have a much deeper and broader knowledge of librarianship and the issues that are currently impacting the profession. Taking the MA has allowed me to explore areas of librarianship I knew very little about and has also increased my knowledge of areas such as management, which I was unlikely to get any experience of as a library assistant. I am sure that by having this knowledge I will be able to make better more informed decisions when I start my first professional post in June.

Confidence

Over the last few months my confidence in my ability to be a good librarian has grown. I now feel confident and well prepared when I approach new tasks and most importantly after giving several presentations I have (mostly) gotten over my fear of public speaking.  Which is handy given the current emphasis in librarianship on teaching information literacy skills!  The MA has also made me 100% confident in my choice of career and by exposing me to different sectors of librarianship it has allowed me to identify with confidence which sector I want to work in.

Transferable skills

Many of the skills I have developed are transferable to many different areas of librarianship and life in general. There has been great emphasis on team working, multitasking, time management, communication and IT skills to name a few. These are all important skills which are often listed as essential requirements in job adverts. The MA has provided me with actual examples of these skills which can be (and have been) used to sell myself in job applications (alongside my practical work experience of course).

Networking and Networking tools

Before I started this MA I was not really aware of the benefits to be gained from networking. However as the course has gone on and we have had talks from current library and information professionals the importance of networking has become clear. Networking and making contacts can be useful ways of gaining advice, support and insight into different ways of working. It is now something I intend to do more of and have started off by signing up to twitter where a multitude of different library and information professionals can be found.  I may even get my own business cards printed!

Friends

This may sound a little cheesy but library school is full of lovely people. At Sheffield there is a really supportive environment which helps when you are struggling through mountains of library school work! One of the great things is that people come into the MA from diverse library backgrounds and this leads to interesting in and out of class discussions. Also it is refreshing to be surrounded by people who understand why I want to work in a library and information environment. I have made some good friends whom I hope to keep in touch with (which again links back to networking).  I am looking forward to following everyone’s librarianship adventures.

Obviously, the points identified above are my opinions towards library school and other people may see things differently (always intereseted to hear opinions). At the moment I definitely think that I made the right decision to go to library school (although I might feel differently once writing my dissertation!).

I realise I am a little biased towards the MA offered at the University of Sheffield but others do exist! CILIP handily has links to all the accredited library and information related courses on its website which is a great starting point to find out more.

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