Back in September I packed up my things and made the move from Oxford to Sheffield to start an MA in Librarianship. I told myself that I was going to document my experience doing my LIS qualification at Sheffield and I’ve not exactly done the best job (having written a grand total of nothing thus far), but no matter, here we are now!
Returning to education has simultaneously been easier and harder than I had expected. After 2 years out of formal education I was apprehensive that I had forgotten how to study, or that at the very least I would find it difficult to transition back into studying. This turned out to be much easier than I had expected; after a couple of weeks I was back in the swing of things. What I had not realised was how different the style of assessment for this degree would be from my undergraduate experience. LIS is a social science and as such the assessments we are expected to do (reports, essays, presentations, reflections) are far more varied than in the humanities (essays, essays and a few more essays for good measure).
Before starting the course I worked in a Further Education college library for two years, and worked part time in a university library alongside this for one year. During this time I did a reasonable amount of reading on various aspects of LIS, whether that be in the form of academic articles, reports or blog posts. I’m pleased to report that this reading has put me in good stead; we’ve certainly gone into more detail on some topics but I’ve had a grounding in most of what we’ve covered so far. The modules in semester 1 appear to have been aimed at providing us with a overview of the LIS sector. In semester 2 we are able to choose from a range of more specialised modules, and I hope these will start to delve into more unfamiliar topics. I’m particularly looking forward to a module on Archives and Records Management, something I know very little about.
There is a part of me that misses working in a library full time, there are certainly think that some things are better learnt in context, but for the most part I am enjoying the university experience. My highlights of the first semester have been:
- Getting my first mark back and realising that I had not forgotten everything about academic writing, and that I would probably be alright.
- A lecturer reading And Tango Makes Three to us at the start of a lecture on children’s library services. All classes should start like this.
- Attending LISDIS. Ok so this one is not strictly library school related, but it involved me and several of my fellow LIS students taking a day trip over to Huddersfield to hang out with librarians. You can read a write up of the conference that I contributed to over on the FLIP Network.
Alongside studying I’m also working part time at the library in the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) at the University of Sheffield. The sort of work I’m doing is very similar to my previous library jobs, but the context is very different. Health libraries were a bit of an unknown quantity to me before I started at ScHARR, but I feel like I am starting to gain a better understanding of the service they provide (although I’ve still got a lot more to learn!). Recently I’ve been learning a bit about literature searching in a health context which has been fascinating. To supplement this I’ve been using the break before semester two starts to do the LIHNN Literature Search MOOC (more on this soon).
I’ve also been working on the Future Library and Information Professionals (FLIP) Network, a network my friend Sarah and I started back in June to provide support and resources for our fellow aspiring LIS professionals. At the moment the website is primarily blog posts from graduate trainees, LIS students and new professionals writing about their experiences. When I was trying to get my first library job, and deciding if/where to go to library school I found posts like this immensely helpful. We’ve also started working on a series of guides to things like mailing lists which may be difficult to navigate when you are starting out in the profession.
That’s all for now. I’ll be back soon with a post on that literature searching MOOC I mentioned! (Update: I posted about the MOOC over on the ScHARR blog, you can see that post here.)