Module choices

Only three modules on the Librarianship course are optional, and as such it was really tricky deciding which to choose from the extensive list available to us! Here’s a brief description of what I’m doing now, and why. Module choices do not have to be finalised until the third week of the Spring semester, so my first few weeks after Christmas were spent ‘shopping’ around and trying out different classes.

Academic and Research Libraries: most of my experience is based in the HE library sector, but I’m also looking at commercial, health or law libraries as potential areas of interest. I attended the CILIP CLSIG, BIALL and SLA Open Day on careers in these sectors in 2013, and found the enthusiasm of the speakers there for their jobs really exciting. This module is coordinated by Stephen Pinfield, who is an excellent lecturer with lots of experience in the field. He puts a lot of effort into our classes and there have been some really interesting external speakers so far on the module – all highly regarded in their various fields.

Digital Multimedia Libraries: I decided I needed a more ‘techy’ module, which is why I opted for this. The software that we use, Greenstone, is unfortunately not the most up-to-date, but I think many of the skills learnt here will be transferable to other digital libraries such as DSpace or Eprints, which seem to be the most popular platforms at the moment.

Archives and Records Management: I chose this module in part because the assignment was so much fun – writing a short research paper on any topic using an archive, and then evaluating our experience. We’ve also explored some digital preservation issues as a part of this course, which is an area I’m really interested in. I’ve written about the history and development of handheld videogame devices, using the resources at the National Videogame Archive; I definitely hadn’t expected to be working on a project like this when I started the course!

One of the brilliant things about the Information School is how flexible and accommodating staff have been. I have been able to sit in on classes from other modules that I am interested in, including Public Library Services (which is absolutely wonderful; Storybook Dads left me in tears), Information Governance, and Healthcare Information (which are both directly relevant to my dissertation). Overall, I’m really pleased with the topics that have been covered on my course – of course there’s still plenty to learn when I take up my first professional post, but I think I’ve been given a good introduction to many key issues and skills.

I’m just getting started on a detailed dissertation proposal, so I’ll be writing about that soon!

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Managing the workload on the MA Librarianship course

I have to confess that one of the things that has taken me by surprise this year is the amount of work I’ve had to do! I already hold a postgraduate degree in Romantic/Victorian Studies from the University of St Andrews, where we had a leisurely 5 hours of seminars a week (though of course I spent a lot of my time doing independent study and reading, as well). I had not really anticipated the change in work culture that has come from moving disciplines, from the Arts and Humanities into the Social Sciences. As well as essays, I am producing presentations, reports, annotated bibliographies, reflective journals, literature reviews, and a digital library for my assessed coursework.

I have had 15 assignments to complete over the course of the year, of which 3 involve group work. This has been a new experience for me, as although I have worked in a team as a part of my library and orchestral work experiences, completing assignments and presentations collaboratively requires slightly different skills. These assignments tend to be more time-consuming and stressful than the individual ones, but they have been an excellent learning experience and one which I think I would have missed if I had chosen to do the Librarianship qualification via distance learning.

 Information Commons by Daniel Villar Onrubia on Flickr / CC-BY-NC-SA

Information Commons by Daniel Villar Onrubia on Flickr / CC-BY-NC-SA

I also have a part-time job working 15 hours a week as a Weekend Services Assistant at the University Library. I really appreciate the fact that I do have this opportunity for practical experience alongside the course, and the money is invaluable in helping me pay for my living expenses… but it has been tricky! I’ve managed to address this by doing some coursework when it is quiet on the service desk; reading articles, completing job applications and writing reflective journal entries are particularly good tasks for this as they can be easily interrupted. Tools like Mendeley, Dropbox and Google Drive have been absolutely indispensable in helping me keep my work organised and easily accessible.

Other things that have kept me busy are the Library Society and a Creative Media Course, which I will discuss in more detail soon! I’ve also been sitting on some additional classes, particularly from the Healthcare Information and Information Governance modules, because they are closely related to my dissertation topic.