Graduation.

Back in 2015 I was deliberating whether to do the Librarianship course at Sheffield or the MA in Library and Information Management at MMU. With the Information School apparently being No1 for Library and Information studies, I eventually settled on Sheffield because I guess it sounded more impressive.
So 3 years on I have finally completed the course! I am officially a qualified librarian!
But was it worth it?


It has been an interesting 3 years. I met some lovely people, especially during my first year. Really inspiring tutors and passionate librarians who have gone on to be successful. I did get a lot from the class discussions and seminars, something you’d probably miss out on if you were a distance learner. I did miss a lot, socially, by not doing the course full-time in Sheffield. I love the city and I really liked the campus. I would have liked to have spent more time in the libraries and the travelling really did get to me. I had to get up at 5.30am to get to uni for 9am for a few semesters and I’m really not a morning person. I simply attended classes and then went home which was a bit miserable really.
I was working part-time in the College Library so I only went over to Sheffield once a week. In reality, I felt more like a distance learning student. I did all of my studying on the train or at home. Luckily, Sheffield’s library resources are second to none. I was always able to find eBooks and online journals. If I did need a print book, the postal loans service sorted me out and auto-renewals made life easy. I love the Sheffield University Library Service!
I started working full-time during my 3rd year and at one point during the final few weeks of my dissertation, I was cooped up at home during the summer 2018 heatwave, cancelling plans with friends and stressing out! For about 2 weeks, I was convinced that my hair was falling out. My mum, friends and partner were amazing and helped me through. They cheered me up and proof read my work and I am eternally grateful.

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This was the only stress I felt during the entirety of the course which I count as a win. I definitely missed out on the intensity and stress of studying for an MA over one year – I admire all who have done this! It is an impressive feat! I managed to submit on time and that was it. I was done!
I wasn’t going to attend my graduation. Call me cheap but £51 for robes!? I didn’t really know anyone else graduating and I’d done it once. My first graduation was incredible; I was surrounded by friends and I’d literally had the best 3 years of my life! An amazing experience that was never going to be replicated. I also received two awards the first time round and I got a 1st.
But hey, I can’t scoff at a merit either. So obviously I decided to attend and I am really glad I did (we all wanted the day off work) and I did work hard after all, and I have spent a lot of money. Plus, graduation is a great excuse to dress up and celebrate!

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Most expensive mug ever?

I had a lovely day with my family and I’ll remember it forever! I watched Ciara Eastwell receive her honorary doctorate and the speeches almost had me in tears! It was amazing to hear the work of public librarians and libraries being celebrated on the day I became a Librarian.

Although… I have been calling myself a Librarian for a good few years now. I just have a certificate double confirming it. I did learn a lot on the course but I have learned most of what I know from working in a library and from colleagues, especially my grad trainee mentor, Sarah, and my colleague, Penelope. If I could do it all again, I would still do the MA but I would definitely go for a part-time, distance learning course. The Information School started a distance learning MA a year after I started the course…
I am hoping the course has opened doors that would have otherwise been closed had I not done the qualification. But there is also a hell of a lot I still have to learn. I’m not even sure what I want to do next. I do know that I will never be done with learning. I love studying and will jump at any opportunity presented to me to learn more. Hey, I might even do a PhD one day!

I am proud and confident in the knowledge that information professionals are needed now more than ever and I am excited to “officially” begin my career!

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If you fancy a career in libraries & information I’d be more than happy to talk to you about my experiences and answer your questions.

Definitely check these groups out for more info and events;

FLIP Network | Future library and information professionals

NLPN | A network for new and aspiring library professionals

CILIP

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NLPN: Voted by you: Amy takes the floor

I was recently offered the opportunity to “take the floor” at the latest NLPN networking and CPD event.

As well as 3 really useful sessions from info pros (which you can read about in this write up by Emma Dent), the NLPN team scheduled in some time for 3 short 10 minute presentations. This is designed to give someone the opportunity to present on a topic of their choice to a friendly, informal audience.

The criteria outlined by NLPN was:

  • Are you passionate and knowledgeable about an aspect of Library and Information work that would be of interest to early career professionals?
  • Do you have experience of working on a project that has enhanced your insight or practical abilities that would be of value to new professionals?
  • Do you have practical tips to impart about how you have developed your skills or expertise?
  • Have you contributed to or been part of innovative service development in your workplace?
  • Do you have practical advice to offer from your career trajectory to date?

Since completing my dissertation, I have been on the lookout for opportunities to practice my public speaking and to share my research. I felt I matched all of the criteria; I am certainly knowledgeable after working on the project for almost a year. My topic is a perpetual problem in the sector, highlighted by my research, and by conversations with colleagues, therefore I figured people would probably be interested. As this opportunity was only 10 minutes, I had to apply. 10 minutes isn’t all that scary, amiright?

These are the slides that I initially sent to NLPN. I was so pleased when they emailed me to tell me they would like me to present. The one piece of feedback they offered was to trim down the content and I agree, there is way too much text. But the slides in their original form are probably best to link to online as I am not there to provide the context.

So… voila!

After delivering one 10 minute talk, I am in no way an oration oracle but I would like to share my experience as they may be helpful to others who are preparing to deliver a talk or a presentation.


I really enjoyed my talk. People seemed to be very interested and I received a lot of questions*. Answering people’s questions and discussing my topic was my favourite part. I felt we could have discussed the issue for a lot longer.

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Oh hey

As a kind of safety net, I usually have reams of paper when I talk as they make me feel more prepared. I usually never look at them. In fact, it can cause me to lose my trail of thought completely. No one likes to watch someone awkwardly fumble with sheets of paper. I am starting to have more confidence in myself and my knowledge to go to my talks without a novel of notes.

For this talk, I prepared just two little cue cards with key points that I did not want to leave out and this was really helpful for me. Postcards are the perfect size and these ones looked good on the floor too.

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The cutest of cue cards

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I am aware I have a tendency to talk very fast but I think because I practiced and timed myself, on this occasion I did okay. I found it really useful to run through the talk several times and to time myself on my phone. I actually set up my timer on the day so that I would not over or under run on my timing. I also practiced in front of a colleague and my partner to ask for their feedback which they gave and I acted upon before the talk.

Top 3 tips for preparing for a talk or a presentation of any kind:

  1. Practice, practice, practice! So you know fully in your mind what you are talking about. This will allow you to confidently communicate your topic with the audience. Confidence is key – even if you have to fake it!
  2. Time yourself. Timing is very important – don’t rush through it but don’t blab on forever. Put your phone on silent and use the timer or get a stop watch and keep an eye on it.
  3. Enjoy it! How often to do get to have people’s (hopefully) undivided attention? It’s your chance to talk about your area of expertise, your experiences, or your work. You have something worth saying and by sharing this knowledge with people, you are doing something good. So enjoy 😀

I would like to thank the NLPN team and the sponsors for putting on these fantastic FREE events. They really are so useful to me as a new professional. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to share my work with others and to develop my skills further in a safe, friendly environment. The willingness of info pros to share their skills, their research and their time is why the profession is so fabulous!

*One of the questions was along these lines – “What’s next? Had I shared my research with my team? Have we seen an improvement in behaviour?” At the time my answer was “I haven’t done anything yet”. But I had my reasons. I was waiting to receive my dissertation mark and I wanted to devise a plan of action.

We are going to be making some big changes in the Library over the next few months and I will be sharing snippets of my research and my experiences leading this change.

So if behaviour management in libraries is your thing, stay tuned!

Behaviour Management in Further Education College Libraries – Questionnaire

I am currently working on my Masters dissertation. The purpose of my project is to advance our understanding of the issues surrounding the management of student behaviour in Further Education College Libraries for the benefit of students, Library staff and Library management.

People who work or have worked in Further Education or Sixth Form College libraries are invited to participate in this research. If you work or have worked in a Sixth Form College/ FE library please could you complete my questionnaire. Likewise, if you know anyone who works/ worked in this sector, please could you pass this on to them.

Thank you for assisting me in my research 🙂

LISDIS Conference 2016

 

I recently attended the LISDIS Conference which was hosted at University College London. @LISDISConf is a conference where recent graduates can showcase their Library and Information Science dissertation projects.

I was unable to attend the first conference which was held up north last year and was very lucky to have been awarded a travel bursary which was kindly offered by LISDIS and their sponsors (thank you). It is rare that I can afford to get down to London so this was a fantastic opportunity and I appreciate being offered the bursary, especially since I am starting to think about dissertation topics.

I would recommend this conference to all LIS students because it has given me so much to think about and listening to the experiences and advice from graduates is so helpful when you are about to go through the same thing. It seems most people are at either end of the dissertation spectrum: you either have too many dissertation topic ideas or too few. I have been compiling a list over the last year and this list is getting VERY long… On the one hand it feels good to already have ideas but on the other the ideas are way too broad and vague at the moment to be of any use to anyone.

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My ridiculous list of vague and random dissertation ideas inspired by conferences, my uni modules, Twitter, blogs and my reading. I don’t do my dissertation until next academic year… 

Jane Morgan Daniel and Megan Dyson both did their dissertations on topics related to their workplace and this is something that I am now seriously considering because of the easy availability of research data from usage stats, library users and organisation staff etc. I also want to make a real impact in my place of work with research as I feel it will keep me motivated and engaged with my topic. I will definitely take Jane and Megan’s advice on board if I do decide to do my dissertation about my workplace. I will ensure the research question is very narrow and focused, I will attempt to leave plenty of time to traverse the “minefield” that is data collection; especially when looking at usage stats and I will not underestimate the time it takes to conduct the literature review.

As well as gaining many ideas and useful tips from the presenters it was fascinating to hear about all of the fantastic research that has been done.It is so inspiring to hear about the outcomes of the work that people have put so much effort and time into. This is why LISDIS is such an amazing conference concept and it is so much more amazing that it is free! Librarians are awesome!

This is the conference program for the day:

Information and Data
Jane Morgan Daniel: The information needs of Occupational Therapy students

James Atkinson: A Library Love Triangle? An analysis of the relationship between data, information and knowledge in Library and Information Studies

Linking with our users
Helena Byrne: Connecting to the past through the Abbey Ballroom Indoor Football oral history project: Developing a resource guide and the physical exhibition for Drogheda Local Voices
Megan Dyson: The Hybrid Music Library: User format preferences at Leeds College of Music Library
Dilyana Ducheva: RDA implementation: the new cataloguing standard in Europe
Lunch and Library Tour
Parallel session – Emma Coonan on publishing in LIS journals
Challenging Ideas within LIS
Diana Hackett: An elephant in the room: information literacy in the narrative of UK public libraries
Katherine Quinn: Resisting Neoliberalism: the challenge of activist librarianship in the UK HE context

My favourite talk of the day was Diana Hackett’s presentation on information literacy in the narrative of UK public libraries.

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Her talk was especially pertinent as the National Libraries, Museums and Culture demo was taking place in London on the same day as the conference and even though we were all unable to attend, I think it’s fair to say we were all there in spirit with those marching for @5thNovDemo!

Diana found that there is a lack of advocacy for the varied and meaningful ways in which the public library can help people with their information literacy skills. The narrative describes services and concepts such as ‘digital literacy’, ‘getting support’ and ‘signposting’ but does not actually tell people what this entails and paints the library as a passive organisation. There is a failure to communicate the many ways in which information literacy can improve people’s lives.

Diana also identified a gap in the LIS literature; no one seems to be researching info lit in public libraries and this made me wonder why? A few people have told me that I should be looking towards working in the HE library sector rather than public libraries because that’s where the jobs are, public library jobs are low paid, there’s no room for progression etc. If new library professionals are being dissuaded from joining the public library workforce and if people are not researching info lit in public libraries then how can we improve and champion our public libraries?

I am also now considering researching public libraries for my dissertation thanks to Diana and her excellent presentation. The final piece of advice that I have taken away from LISDIS is that I should study something that I love and care about because that’s what makes good research.

Peace.x

 

 

University

So I have made the decision about which University to attend to complete my Library studies and the lucky University is… Sheffield! The process was so easy with their online application portal. You could easily edit your application, save it and go back to it at a later date. They were very fast in responding after I had submitted my application. They responded in less than two weeks with an offer so I was very happy with that. I am looking forward to being a student once again and learning more about the Library profession.

It is going to be a big adjustment. I think it is going to be difficult to go from working full time to working part time (hopefully – I need to find a job). I wish I could stay here, it’s such a nice place to work! For the last two years I’ve been working full time and I have enjoyed the income. I now have greater responsibilities since moving into my own flat so I am going to have to really learn to budget my money as there are few lovely bursaries and hand outs for post grads. I do however have the support of my boyfriend and my family and it will definitely be worth it in the long run.

I have applied to go back to University. What am I thinking!?

I am actually really looking forward to getting back into the swing on academia and becoming a student once again (not in it for the discounts I promise). Having visited both the open days for the University of Sheffield and Manchester Metropolitan library courses I have decided to apply for both, which I have now done eek! I am pretty much decided on Sheffield because the course overall looks a lot better than the one at MMU. The module choices are way more comprehensive and look a lot more interesting if I am honest. I am happy that they offer an Archives and Records Management module which I would possibly be interested in taking. The module choices at MMU are a bit thin on the ground and the department seems a lot smaller. Many people have recommended Sheffield and the reviews I have read seem to suggest a lot more student satisfaction with the course at Sheffield.

But MMU is so much closer to home. There always has to be a but… why can’t things just be simple? So I either chose a better University offering a better course and travel 4 hours a day (with good module choices that I may not be able to take as it will require me to travel to Sheffield several times a week). Or I chose a course that does not look as good but will make my life easier in terms of working and travelling. I am going to have to work part-time to fund my studies unless I suddenly come into some money so I need to be realistic about how much I can actually do and afford.

There is always the Distance Learning option and I think I will apply for one course at least just in case something goes horribly wrong in September. I do feel a tiny bit stressed thinking about it because I know I am going to have to make the decision very soon. I will report back when/ if I receive some offers. Wish me luck.

Manchester Metropolitan University Postgraduate Open Day 11/02/15

The open day went well. I had a nice little afternoon trip over to Manchester and left feeling more positive about the course. Sheffield is still my first choice but I will probably apply to MMU as well because of the convenience of its location. It’s a short train journey away and the course did sound interesting. The course has an in depth focus on information and technology. The core module titles are; Research and Practice, Management and Information Professionals, Search and Retrieval, Information Futures and Dissertation. The optional modules are; Digital Rights, E-learning and the Organisation, Literature and it’s Readers and Information and Knowledge Management. There are not many options available in terms of module choices. They do offer some decent funding. There are 16 bursaries for the faculty up for grabs offering 50% of tuition fees and there is also the Jean Rich Studentship which is the award of 6000 Canadian dollars. There are no exams but this doesn’t really matter to me as I don’t mind sitting exams. I will make a more comprehensive comparison once I’ve been to the open day at Sheffield in a few weeks.