Librarianship - Student Profiles

Karl Hemsley, Librarian, Leeds Public Libraries

I'm working as a librarian in Leeds Public Libraries, based in the North East of the city. The work is very varied and I'm enjoying it very much. The MA in Librarianship at Sheffield proved to be excellent preparation in many ways for this role. For me the most valuable aspect of the course at Sheffield was that it made me think about why libraries exist and what their most important functions are. I have been surprised at Leeds about how much freedom I have in using my time as I see fit, so I have to put a lot of thought into my priorities. The lectures, discussions, reading and writing at Sheffield proved to be a very effective way of helping me to think about how to make the best use of my time. I spend a lot more time than I expected on teaching basic computer skills to library users, something that I have found really rewarding and I suspect is going to play an increasing role in public libraries. Marketing is also a big, and challenging, part of the job and I think that it is good that the course at Sheffield emphasised this.

Stephen Howe, Assistant Librarian, Royal Armouries Museum

I work at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds as Assistant Librarian. It was my fourth job interview, and when they said yes (somewhat to my surprise as I know nothing about things that are spiky and things that go bang!) I grabbed it. I report to the librarian and there is also a library assistant whom I am nominally in charge of. It's principally a staff library, but we also supply pictures of items in the collections to publishers for use in books. We also deal with members of the public, and intermittently liaise with the much smaller libraries in the Tower of London and at the Museum of Artillery in Port Nelson near Portsmouth. My pay is fairly low but there are definitely compensations: my first degree in history is now of serious use for the first time, as is my knowledge of French and Italian. The most useful part of the course at Sheffield has proved to be the familiarity with Word and the Internet. At the moment management doesn't really come into my job; it's all happening higher up the hierarchy. At any rate I am in no hurry to move on, for somewhat to my surprise I find myself in a job that is fun.

Gemma Hughes, KM Resources Officer, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary UK LLP (law firm)

After completing the MA in Librarianship course at Sheffield, my first library job was a six month fixed term one, providing maternity cover as an Information Officer in the Leeds office of Eversheds (a law firm). From there I moved on to become the KM Resources officer at DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary's Liverpool office, where I have been for the last eighteen months. The main part of my job involves being responsible for the day-to-day management of the Knowledge Centre, along with assisting the Research Officers with enquiries. I also have a Resources Assistant to manage. Other tasks I have include the production of a daily insurance bulletin and my contribution to the daily news and business headlines bulletin. As well as these another part of my job involves giving Knowledge Management induction talks/tours to the new starters, new trainees and summer students that we have here in the office. During my time at DLA Piper I have also been given responsibility for writing a guide to a section of a large online database and also worked with a colleague on producing induction programme guidelines and materials. I have also been given the task of organising database training for all the new trainees at the firm's 8 UK offices. Whilst here I have been given the opportunity to attend the BIALL conference through work and I am also now the chair of the local legal librarians group. I greatly enjoy my job and find that no two days are ever the same, the fast pace and continuing challenges are also aspects of the job that I enjoy.

I feel that the varied nature of the course in Sheffield, with the mix of both the more traditional and non-traditional librarianship skills etc, was an excellent preparation for my working life. I have particularly benefited from what the course taught me about information management, human resource management, and the internet and other research skills it taught, as well as the time management lessons that I learnt. I recommend the course in Sheffield and personally, my plan is to remain in the legal information sector and continue to develop my career.

Amelia Luzzi, Assistant Librarian, Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College, Birmingham

I am Assistant Librarian in a busy and successful sixth-form college near the centre of Birmingham. The library team is small, which means that everyone has to pitch in and do a bit of everything - a great way to gain experience. Any given day I will find myself helping students and staff find the materials they need, sorting out IT-related problems, processing books and selecting stock; I also have full responsibility for our periodicals collection. I am given a large degree of independence in setting up special projects: so far I have been involved in promoting resources and services, am the editor of the library Newsletter (which I set up from scratch) and run an after-school book group. I will also be teaching information handling skills come September. And as if all this weren't enough, CPD is taken very seriously by the college, so that I have been able to get support for Chartership! The Librarianship course at Sheffield has given me invaluable practical knowledge which helps me get through my day: information searching skills, IT skills, and an understanding of how to work with people. But more importantly, the course has opened my eyes to the possibilities of libraries and helped me see beyond what my library already does. Without the MA I wouldn't have the skills or confidence to start up new projects or to do old jobs in a new and better way, and I would not be able to take advantage of the independence that is the best part of a job in a small library.

Jane Rose, Information Officer, Willis Coroon (Insurance Brokers)

After finishing the MA course I found a temporary job working in the medical records library of a hospital near my home in South Manchester. I then found a job working for Sheffield University at the library of the National Centre for English Culture and Tradition where I was responsible for a major retrospective cataloguing project. During this time I also began work on my Chartership and took part in several conferences and courses which built on the knowledge I gained whilst doing my MA. I then moved from Sheffield to London where I am currently working as Information Officer for an insurance brokers in their 'Business Information and Knowledge Centre'. The main part of my job involves managing the company library and carrying out online research work. In addition, I have recently become involved with a project on knowledge sharing which involves travelling to regional offices promoting intranet usage within the company. Sheffield definitely provided me with a good grounding in preparation for my career, particularly with regard to both information management and human resource management.

Helen Towers, Children and Young People's Librarian, Northamptonshire County Council Libraries and Information Service

After handing in my dissertation and having a few weeks off to recover I began work as a Children and Young People's librarian for Northamptonshire County Council Libraries and Information Service. I'm based at Daventry, one of the Area Headquarters, and am responsible for children's stock in 10 static and 2 mobile libraries. It has been quite a challenge, especially as I completed my graduate trainee year in a University library, but the work is very enjoyable. As one of a team of professional librarians I have a share of the enquiry desk duties and I am currently involved in the People's Network rollout in my area, training staff to use the system and troubleshooting some of the more simple problems. I feel that the course at Sheffield, especially the modules based around research methods and ICT have enabled me to take on this type of role confidently. In the autumn Daventry Library will become a Learndirect Centre and I am looking forward to this new challenge. The majority of my work is based around the services which are offered to children and young adults. I am responsible for buying and allocating new stock, managing collections of AV material and promotion of the library service amongst other things. I am also involved in a Chartership training programme and will be starting to write my Professional Development Report very soon, though at 5000 words it is not so daunting a task as writing my dissertation.