Last week we were lucky enough to have two guest speakers in SILS. Both had jobs that didn’t include “librarian” in the title but basically the similarities ended there. Bernard Barrett was our first guest of the day and I was lucky enough to meet with him before his talk with the class and chat to him about his experiences. He is a trained library graduate and has worked in many library roles but his current job description is “Information Scientist.” Bernard still sees himself as a librarian but he feels that it is up to us as librarians to make sure that we give the right impression of the job. We need to see ourselves as highly trained and skilled individuals capable of sitting down with any other professional, with whom we may be working, on an equal basis and working collaboratively. I found him quite inspiring and I agreed with a great deal of what he was saying. He is clearly a man that is passionate about libraries and librarianship but instead of just singing the praises of libraries he is focused on the role of the librarian. Without the librarian, the library is just a room full of books, a computer filled with too much information.
He encouraged us to question. Question why you want to be a librarian, why things are the way they are, what can we do? What is going to be effective? I have spoken previously about how the user is king; however, Bernard is correct in saying the librarian is there as a specialist in their field and we are not there to do just administrative work. There is a point when you can say, “No, that is below my job description.” Obviously, he was not telling us to be arrogant, he was ensuring that we are aware that we will be stepping out into the world with a Masters, one which we have worked extremely hard for, and we need to see ourselves as such. He also spoke about having the ability to teach, he felt that this was very important in the role at the moment and encouraged us to embrace teaching others. He spoke about advocacy as something which needs to be logical, well thought out and forward thinking in its approach. I hope that in my career I can continue to progress and learn, teach, question and advocate effectively.
In the evening SILS invited Dr. Laura Toogood to speak to us. Laura has taken a very different career path and it was kind of surreal to hear both talks within an hour or so of each other. Laura got her PhD in SILS in 2010. She worked as a journalist during her time in UCD and feels that the skills we are learning in the course work well in a journalism role. After finishing her work here she moved back to the UK and noticed that there was a gap in the market for someone to help companies with their social media strategy. She mainly used social media on a personal basis but felt that her degree would add weight to her personal experience. She also developed an online luxury lifestyle magazine “The Sloaney” which she enjoys many benefits from, including lots of shampoo and free hotel stays, in exchange for reviews in the magazine. She then moved from social media into online reputation management. In this role she is working with celebrities and other private clients to work on their Google search results, either manipulating information further up, to page one or two or hiding information on page 40. It seems like a very interesting and high-flying career. If you are business minded it is good to know that there are these kinds of options for you to take. She is clearly a very determined woman who has taken her time here in SILS and transferred her skills to the career path and lifestyle she wanted for herself. I hope I can show that kind of determination in my career, although I have to admit that I don’t think the world of online reputation management would be for me!