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!

LISDIS 2015

Thanks FLIP Network for sharing your LISDIS 2015 summary. I was unable to attend LISDIS so this summary was really useful. I really hope it runs again next year as it sounds like it was a really good day. Check it out! 🙂

Future Library and Information Professionals Network

On 14th November, the FLIP team joined many other LIS students and professionals for the first LIS Dissertation conference (LISDIS). The conference was organised in order to showcase the breadth of LIS research done at masters level. There were nine presentations from recent LIS graduates across the day, grouped according to themes as well as a guest presentation from Emma Coonan, editor of the Journal of Information Literacy. Below we’ve summarised details from these presentations, followed by our overall thoughts from the day.

Part 1 – Collections and Discovery

The first presentation was from Sarah Hume discussing her research into classifying women’s studies collections. This was particularly interesting as it highlighted some of the more problematic elements of classification schemes. With most classification schemes having been developed predominantly by men from western cultures a significantly long time age, diverse identities are not always well represented as classification schemes have not…

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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.