Final Reflection on the MLIS

I have mentioned in a previous post that I had done my research and I was prepared when I began this course but even still this year has been surprising for many reasons. After completing my English MA in 2009 I felt that librarianship was the next step for me but student loans meant working for a few years in order to finance another year in college. One thing I have discovered about myself in the past few years is that when I am determined to do something I will put everything I have into making it happen. Starting the MLIS was such a great day for me because after three years of working in retail I finally felt like I was doing what I am supposed to be doing. This feeling of being in the right place has remained throughout the year and the support from lecturers, fellow students, librarians and other information professionals I have met at conferences etc. has only served to convince me that I was born to be a librarian.

In the first semester I took on four modules, Information Architecture, Management for Information Professionals, Information and Reference Services and Research Methods. Information Architecture was a really eye-opening module and I found it fascinating because it was something far outside my comfort zone. It was the first time I really realised the extent of an information professional’s skills and how they can be used in different careers. In semester 2 I took on Digital Libraries, Research Methods 2, Organisation of Information, Cataloguing and Metadata, Contemporary Issue in Professional Practice and Information Professional as Teacher and Collaborator. I had a class everyday and this semester was a lot of hard work and quite a bit of stress but I really enjoyed it because I really took a lot from the modules. Not to say that the first semester wasn’t very enjoyable but I found this semester I was truly immersed in the library world and I really began developing my thoughts on the profession and its future. I found Digital Libraries fascinating and it was a class where we were encouraged to read blogs and follow Twitter to follow the ever occurring changes and issues. Personally, I see librarians as teachers and collaborators so I really enjoyed my teaching module and I think that I learnt a great deal of relevant information in that class and the group work each week allowed us to be creative. However, it was my Contemporary Issues module that I was really encouraged to reflect and to go out into the world and attend events and conferences outside the MLIS bubble. This made the second semester very special for me because speaking with librarians and information professionals and being encouraged and supported by them means a lot to someone finding their feet and I only hope I will be able to provide that kind of encouragement to others in the future. There is so much benefit in having a network and I really appreciate the kindness and generosity of the library community.

I used to worry that my lack of work experience in libraries would hamper my progress in the course but I have learnt that my determination, hard work and willingness to learn and throw myself into new things is also very important in a career as a librarian. You have to be willing to adapt, ask questions and be aware of what you don’t know and find out. When I started I thought I was the opposite of tech savvy but after a few short months I can use loads of open source systems to create websites etc. I have used Google Sites, Omeka and of course, WordPress. Now I would love to do a Web Publishing course and I feel very confident that could master at least the basic of these skills.

There are a couple of things that I think would make useful additions to the course. I have mentioned I would like to see the Rare Books module brought back for those who are interested in Special Collections. Perhaps more collaboration between archives and SILS would be beneficial for both parties, where archivists could benefit from something like Digital Libraries and the librarians could get some archival expertise. I have just completed an environmental scan looking at copyright and DRM in the digital world. I feel like a module or at least some classes dealing with this would be very useful. Also, things like budgeting or proposal writing could be useful additions, even just some guest lectures by people with this kind of experience would be great.

At the end of the day I have gotten so much from this experience that I can’t even put it down in words. Like I have said, it’s been the hardest but the best year of my life so far and I sincerely appreciate all the people that have helped me get to this point. I especially want to thank my boyfriend Jono who is extremely supportive and helped keep me sane throughout the process. The next step now is the Capstone and hopefully to get some work experience over the summer to put my newly acquired skills to the test. I’m very excited about the future and although, times are tough, I truly believe this is the right career path for me so I’m more than willing to put in the hard work that is required and I know I’m going to enjoy every minute of it even when I’m stressed and tired.

So to sum up, its May, I’m finished classes and I’m exhausted, I’ve felt very stressed and under pressure for at least 4 weeks straight but I’m happy, I’m feeling prepared, I’m excited and I’m looking forward to the next challenge.


Alternative Careers for Information Professionals


This week we were asked to look at alternative career choices for information professionals. Interestingly, one student found a list of 61 non-librarian roles for LIS students on a blog by Mia Breitkopf, it also links to some great resources like INALJ (I need a library job). Although, it is my ambition to go down the ‘library’ route (which in itself has plenty of choice), this assignment really got me thinking about the transferable skills that librarians have. I know I could go out into the world after this course and be very capable of doing a variety of things.

1. Obviously the ‘traditional’ library skills, cataloging and organisation of information, are useful in many roles. These organisational skills are also transferable to organisation of people and with the amount of group-work we undertake it is very likely you will have some experience with organizing both people and projects. So think:

  • File Management
  • Event Planning
  • Project Management

2. Most of us have gained a huge amount of social media knowledge while in this course. We know that libraries need to make use of ‘free’ marketing and a lot of us have started to navigate the sea of social media quite effectively. I have seen students become influential on Twitter, use Facebook effectively and student blogs have been really successful this year. Think:

  • Blogging for a living
  • Social media companies
  • Marketing

3. Group-work has been difficult at times but breathe a sigh of relief, team-work is a skill that is transferable for a LOT of careers.

4. Those of us that have taken subjects like Information Architecture and Web Publishing can move into the world of IT. There is also the area of usability and conducting studies and research in this area. Think:

  • User Tester
  • Web Publisher

5. We might have held our head in our hands in despair with the thought of Research Methods modules but now we are almost finished and it really wasn’t that bad at all. We have developed skills in interview techniques, transcription and coding as well as using SPSS for all our statistical needs. Think:

  • Research Assistant

This isn’t even nearly an extensive list so while I am happy to take all my new skills to the library world it is good to know that there are other options and that our skill-set lends itself to many different types of careers.

Happy job-hunting LISers!

Final Round Up – Thursday and Friday

So today is the last day of #HLSDITL. It’s been a really enjoyable experience and it was great to see my own classmates get involved and to become someway acquainted with my peers in different countries. I found it interesting to see what different modules people were taking; like modules concerned with legal issues pertaining to copyright and business and management modules that deal with practical things like budgeting. I think some of these modules could be extremely useful but I guess completing a MLIS like this in one year means that some things need to take priority over others and these are things I can focus on when I begin working in the field. CPD is something I will be taking very seriously. I also want to do some CSS and I’d love to do some work on rare books.

I’ll give a very quick run through of my Thursday and Friday. Yesterday (Thurs) I had my Issues in Professional Practice module. For this module we have to build our PLN’s and e-Portfolios on WordPress. A few of my classmates were having trouble with creating menus so I volunteered to go in an hour earlier and help them out. I made up a tutorial sheet and tweeted about it and I’ve sent to some other MLIS-ers so I hope it helps. It took me awhile on YouTube watching tutorials to figure it out. I’ve only been blogging since late 2012 and I’ve taught myself a lot which is something I’m quite proud of and it makes me more hopeful that I will be able to keep up with changing technologies in my future career if I apply myself. The class was a workshop so I also got to teach a little bit. I think the teaching aspect of the librarian’s role is really important and I get a lot of enjoyment out of helping people learn. I think collaboration in courses like this, that are so intense, is really useful and I always appreciate help and try to help others if and when I can.

Today I had a class in my Information Professional as Teacher and Collaborator module which I suppose, considering what I’ve just written, is a really important class for me. Today we had a group-work session for the first hour. We were given a group of ‘users’ and we had to consider characteristics, information behaviour, information services that could be provided and barriers to offering the services. We were given Junior Doctors in an Acute Care Hospital. I found this a really interesting thought-experiment and it was particularly useful in that I’m really interested in medical libraries and the necessity of information literacy skills in relation to evidence-based practice. In the second half of the class our lecturer spoke to us about understanding the user. This is a very important part of teaching but it also important for ensuring libraries remain relevant. The user’s needs and wants have to be considerations.

It has been a really interesting week to be involved in #HLSDITL. I really enjoy blogging but I’ll be glad to go back to once a week. I hope anyone reading this has gotten a good idea of what it’s like to be a library student. It’s a LOT of hard-work but the learning is very rewarding. Some of my assignments that I will be working on over the mid-term include a cataloguing assignment, building a digital library on Omeka and creating an information literacy course (my ideas include either a college preparation course for 4th yr students or a course on social media networking for pre-graduates.) It’s going to be a busy two weeks but they sound pretty fun, if a bit stressful, so it’ll all be worthwhile.

Thanks for a great week Hack Library School!

Woo-hoo for Wednesday!

Yesterday we had our big table-quiz night. There wasn’t a huge turn out but I have to say I think everyone that did turn up had a great time! I was able to enjoy myself because I had submitted the big Qualitative Assignment due today and although there was some nerves, (and a bit of a pain in my stomach pressing the submit button) it was a great feeling to have it done. I was really happy with the rounds, there was a lot of laughter and all-in-all I think it was a great culmination of our hard work. Next week some of us are visiting Marsh’s Library as an InfoSoc outing so hopefully that will be just as successful. A lot of people in my class are on mid-term now but I still have two more modules today and Friday. The way my timetable works out I have a class everyday but I’m over halfway there and I really enjoy the next two modules so I don’t mind seeing people on their holidays already. (Well, I don’t mind too much!)

Yesterday we had A LOT of cataloging to take in but it was all really interesting so it wasn’t so bad. The first hour was RDA and subject terms. The next two hours we had some guest lectures talking about cataloging music, rare books and digital images. My favourite of these three was rare books and it comes at a very good time with the Marsh’s trip next week. Its very unfortunate (for me at least) that the course doesn’t incorporate a rare books module anymore. I know that technology is really important and all that but at the end of the day there’s always going to be need to catalogue and preserve rare books. At least I sincerely hope there will always be a need for it.

We were shown this YouTube video to illustrate the different vocabulary used in rare books.

I didn’t get into library studies particularly because of my love of books but I guess it doesn’t hurt. I’ve loved books forever and one of my favourite things is that old book smell. It’s a total comfort thing for me. In fact I have a perfume by In the Library perfume from CB I Hate Perfume.


Described as “a warm blend of English Novel*, Russian & Moroccan Leather Bindings, Worn Cloth and a hint of Wood Polish.” What’s not to love! I find rare books beautiful and fascinating. I know there are some courses in the UK that deal with rare books and I would definitely consider doing one at some stage but we’ll have to see where this takes me first.

After that we got a chance to play with OCLC Connexion, which is always fun. We have a big cataloging assignment due next week.

Today I’ve taken a bit of a rest this morning but now I need to figure out a way to help some of my classmates with WordPress. They’re having problems with the whole pages v. categories in menus thing. I think I’m going to do up some diagrams to help them out. I actually looking forward to today’s class too because I’ll be getting some feedback on my blog. I hope the class and my lecturer like it!
Kind-of sad that #HLSDITL is nearing an end but I got a lot from the week so far and I’ve really enjoyed it. Blogging is a bit therapeutic especially when you can see there are others facing the same stresses and worries.

Oh, and Happy Book Day! 🙂

A…maybe not so typical…Tuesday

I knew this year was going to be hard work; I had done my research and I was ready. However, despite having full-time jobs and already completing an MA, I guess I didn’t really know what hard work was before because this year has been an eye-opener and very tough going. You’d think this would be a negative thing but actually this has also probably been the best year of my life so far. I’m doing what I was made to do as far as I’m concerned. I’m on the road to my dream job and if that means working hard then to be perfectly honest I’m 100% okay with it. I’m learning every single day and I’m loving every minute.

Today has been one of those of those particularly tough days. This week we have to hand up an assignment that involved us interviewing people about their mobile use and observing mobile phone use in pubs. We had to transcribe the interviews and write up the field notes and everything needs to be submitted in a certain way so it’s been a little stressful trying to make sure everything is in order. I spent the first few hours this morning working on that, it still needs a little work but I’m not so worried now.

At 3 o’clock I had to be in college for a meeting with other members of the InfoSoc, an alternative society, for us SILS crowd. Although I have a lot going on I have decided to become a member of InfoSoc because I think it’s good to have some sort of work-life balance. Of course, it actually means more work for me but it also means a bit of fun for me along with everyone else and it’s a chance to get to know my classmates better. Also, some students have nominated me for a President’s Award for my work and I am very grateful to have something like this to add to my CV because I was too shy to put myself out there in this way the last time I was in college. Tomorrow we’re hosting a Table Quiz in SILS and I think it’s going to be a great way for us to relax a little after such a busy start to the week. I can’t tell you about the questions just yet but suffice to say there are some library related bits and pieces thrown in.

From 4 to 6 I had a lecture for my Research Methods module. This is the module where we learn all about qualitative and quantitative research. Although this module is really important for Capstone, and especially for me in my role as a Research Assistant, it is always a difficult two hours to get through. I haven’t done Maths since secondary school and while I’m lucky enough to understand everything we are doing, it can be a lot to take in when we’re focusing on statistics and it is definitely not one of my favourite subjects. However, I do get a bit of a kick out of the fact that I know that my secondary school Maths teacher would be very proud that I understand all this stuff and to be perfectly honest SPSS really isn’t the worst thing in the world.

After college I had to go get some prizes for the quiz. I’m home since about 8, my laptop has been out since; I’m working on stuff for the assignment, answering emails and Facebook messages, and having a look at various WordPress sites. It’s 20 past 9 now and I’m just about to have dinner. Exhausted but like I said I love every minute so I’ll be up and ready for another day bright and early in the morning. Might take the rest of tonight off now and watch an hour of TV. Tomorrow’s another long day.

A Twitter Monday

  1. Back to school today after a great wkend. A&SL Annual Seminar and NPD Ireland Event #HLSDITL
  2. Doing reading about Open Access for my Digital Libraries module which is great cos we’re focusing on OA in healthcare for Capstone. #HLSDITL
  3. Worked from home this morning. On the way to UCD now. Digital libraries lecture followed by work and Capstone meetings. #HLSDITL
  4. Trying to decide whether to do a project on Linked Open Data or Copyright and Intellectual Property issues in Digital Libraries. #HLSDITL
  5. On my way home now. Just finished a meeting about Capstone. We’re looking at use of Open Access by healthcare professionals. #HLSDITL
  6. Its going to be a long day 2mro. Research Methods assignment due this week. Transcriptions of interviews. Plus InfoSoc table quiz. #HLSDITL
  7. Health Libraries Conference coming up. Considering whether I can afford to go to one or two days. V. thankful for student rates. #HLSDITL