Helen Kiely and Lorna Dawson are about to embark on that milestone in the library and information profession: the Library and Information Masters. They take a look at careers, courses and aspirations.
HK: I’ve come into libraries in a rather circuitous route. I started working at Warrington & Halton NHS Foundation Trust in January 2010 but down the corridor in Medical Education. I also worked weekends as a library assistant in Halton libraries. In 2015 the opportunity to apply for a secondment into the Knowledge and Evidence service came up and I was able to inch my way down the corridor. I was lucky enough to be made permanent after the secondment ended.
LD: I started working in libraries as soon as I finished uni. I somehow managed to get a Graduate Trainee Library Assistant role at Manchester Metropolitan University with zero library experience in 2013 and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I wasn’t 100% sure if it was the direction I wanted to take but after discovering that working in primary schools wasn’t for me I returned to libraries, this time to Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust. I didn’t really know what to expect …
HK: I was the same! Embarrassingly prior to starting to work in the NHS I had no idea what a trust library service really did- I’d never thought about it before and now it seems like I think of little else!
LD: One of things I was completely unaware of but which makes it such a great sector to work in is the networks. It’s nice to see people working together so closely, constantly coming up with new innovations to improve the service. Doing the Masters will really help us be able to start contributing to new projects. Which route did you decide to take?
HK: I am doing the MA in Libraries and Information Services Management from the University of Sheffield via distance learning.
LD: I was thinking about distance learning but eventually I decided to do the MA part time at Manchester Metropolitan University.
HK: I chose the distance learning option for a few reasons: cost-effectiveness from where I live, the look of the programme and also I completed my previous qualification (MA in Social and Cultural Theory) via distance learning a few years ago and it is a format I have found works well for me- it allows me to read through lectures and notes at ungodly hours of the morning and work through things at a pace that is easier for me.
LD: For me, physically going to lectures helps me focus. I really appreciate that I’ve been given day-release from work and that’s a real motivation factor to apply what I’ve learnt as soon as possible to my professional practice. I also think it’s a really great opportunity to start networking. LIHNN has shown me that networking is really important and the Masters is a great place to make valuable contacts for the future. I’m looking forward to scribbling away in a notepad too …
HK: I’m all set with a computer with a webcam and a set of headphones with a microphone attachment, as if I’m about to go into a MMORPG battle!
LD: Well you’ll definitely look prepared for exploding search terms! What do you want to get out of the course?
HK: Well in the long term of course I want to be a qualified healthcare librarian! I have helped my colleagues who have been very good at providing opportunities for me to expand my horizons and develop so I have done some teaching, training, and literature searching and helped out in the planning stages for other sessions and services, but I want to be able to work at that higher level too rather than simply signposting to my colleagues who can!
LD: Yes, one of the big things for me is being able to use the knowledge I gain to benefit others. I want to be able to help share the load of literature searches with my colleagues. I’m also hoping that it will give me the knowledge base to be able to contribute to a LIHNN project which I can hopefully base my dissertation on. For me, it’s a great opportunity to turn something that could just be a long slog to make a high word count into the documentation of a project that benefits lots of people.
HK: I’m also looking forward to exploring new perspectives and ideas, topics that perhaps don’t come up every day and will make me better informed in terms of underlying principles and new ideas and changes on the horizon.
LD: It’s an exciting time to be doing the course because, as you say, there are constantly new changes on the horizon in the information world and with the MA under our belts we can maybe be a few of the innovators behind aspects of Knowledge Management in the future.
Lorna Dawson and Helen Kiely