So, this is in response to the email that Ned Potter sent inviting us to write a blog post about how we got into being Information Professionals. I wish mine was as interesting as Sarah’s! It’s not, but nevermind, here we go….
I’m going to start with where I am now and go back in time to how I got here.
I’m currently an Assistant Information Adviser for the School of Environment and Technology at the University of Brighton. I look after staff and students of the geography and geology division and the civil engineering and built environment division. I started the job in January 2009 having qualified with the MA Information Studies in June 2008.
I did the MA part time over 3 years and worked full time as a Careers Information Officer in the Careers Centre, which is part of Student Services at the University of Brighton. I was really lucky that my manager and my colleagues were supportive of me doing the MA. I had to make up some hours for when I was at lectures, which was hard work, but well worth it.
It was when I started as a Careers Information Officer in January 2005 that I discovered I actually really enjoy information work. This role was quite a nice introduction into information work as there was a relatively small collection to maintain and update. In addition to the physical collection to manage I was also responsible for keeping the information on the Careers Centre website up to date and was able to investigate potential uses of other electronic tools for getting careers information out to our students and getting them to come and use our services. I was lucky enough to be able to develop the role as I went along and after starting the job in January 2005, I started the MA in the September.
During the MA I tried to make the most of the opportunities presented, such as applying for the student place at Umbrella 2007 which was being offered by our local CILIP branch. I was also aware that although I had a job as an Information Officer, this was all the experience I had and so in addition to my full time info job, I got a job as a shelver in Aldrich Library (where Iwork now!) for 6 hours a week. It was a very busy time, but I’m so glad I got the experience. There were times during the MA when I wondered if I was cut out for information work, but I’m glad I stuck with it, because I really enjoy what I’m doing now.
Like Sarah I’ve always been a user and fan of libraries and have vivid
memories of going to our local public library with my mum or sisters and choosing books to take home and read. When I was very little I also liked to play at being a librarian! Really?! Yes, we had loads of Topsy and Tim books and they’ve all got date stamps in from when I’d loaned them to my sisters or friends or dog or anyone that was passing! Even now, one of my greatest pleasures is getting lost in a good book. Oh, the cliche! But it’s a true story. I love a bit of crime fiction and fantasy sort of stuff as well as gothic ghosty writing.
Prior to starting the job as a Careers Information Officer I hadn’t considered a job as a librarian or information professional, in fact when I finished my undergraduate (English and Spanish) degree I didn’t have the foggiest idea what I wanted to do and spent a year temping in boring, horrible jobs. Even though I didn’t have a very nice time work wise in that year, I did decide on some of the things that I definitely didn’t want to do long term! Also, I was able to see what transferable skills I had, as well as where my strengths and weaknesses lie.
I’m glad I’m on this route though and I’m looking forward to see where it will take me next. In terms of what that might be; well certainly for the next year my priority is to charter, then after that I’d really like to work abroad in a librarian/IP role and I’d love it if I could make use of the Spanish I’ve got (and improve it of course!), so we’ll see.
As a final thing, what I would say to anyone considering this sort of career is that there is so much to it, so much variety and one of the things I really value is that we do make a difference to people and our organisations. When a student says to me; “Thanks so much, that was really useful.” I’m just so pleased that I’ve been able to help them with some aspect of their time during university.
I would also encourage people to make the most of opportunities presented and to make opportunities for themselves. I think that if you want to make a difference then you will. If you’re interested and enthusiastic then there’s nothing stopping you!