MA Library and Information Services Management - Student Profiles

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Zoe Birch, Assistant Librarian, English Nature

I work as an Assistant Librarian in the Library and Information Services Team for English Nature, the government agency concerned with nature conservation and geology based in Peterborough. My main responsibilities are cataloguing the vast range of material that makes up our collection. Daily duties include assisting in current awareness and parliamentary briefing serices, and enquiry and literature search work. I am also involved in setting up our new library information system, which entails a large amount of editing the database, writing online staff manuals, and training regional staff around the country. The job is enjoyable, challenging and is proving to be ideal as my first professional post, allowing lots of opportunities to gain a wide range of information management skills and support with external Continuing Professional Development (CPD). This includes being a member of the Eastern branch of the Career Development Group. I also hope to begin my chartership very soon. The skills I gained on the Sheffield MA course are proving very useful, although some are on hold until I take up either a management position or move to a more electronically advanced organization.

Alison Charlesworth, Counter Services Supervisor, St. Thomas Medical Library, Kings College London

Since graduating I have worked for Kings College London (KCL), starting there as a Senior Information Assistant in Journals/Document Delivery. I have now progressed to Counter Services Supervisor at the St. Thomas Medical Library. The work is interesting and sometimes challenging as the library not only serves the staff and students of KCL, it deals with several local NHS trusts. I am also involved in delivering teaching and inductions for a whole range of users. Like most librarians I attend a lot of meetings and spend a great deal of time interacting with the users. I enjoyed the MA course at Sheffield, and benefited a lot from it. I learnt new skills such as searching the internet and databases effectively, as well as management skills and was able to build on existing skills such as interpersonal and communication skills.

Evangelia Kargianoti, Document Management Co-ordinator, Athens International Airport

After an 8 month appointment at Cyprus International Institute of Management, I currently work with Athens International Airport as a Document Management Co-ordinator in the company's Central Information Unit. Working for the development and management of Europe's largest infrastucture project and having to combine internal and external information sources is my job's most intriguing element. Being a member of the team that creates an information centre from scratch, in a country with an information management infrastructure in its infancy is an ongoing challenge for me and my colleagues. My team is in charge of developing the company's information and document policy which is a great stakeholder of the company's Knowledge Management Strategy. I map the company's diverse information needs and introduce services that address them; assist in designing databases that aim at unveiling tacit knowledge, provide current awareness services, organize information provision through the corporate intranet, design and implement processes for the company's document management. The course in Sheffield provided me with a very strong background in meeting my current responsibilities: business information, on-line searching, html coding. However, I have to single out management courses and especially human resources management, as well as the mentality that professional development is an ongoing process that is achieved through continuous training and professional networking.

Clare Sinclair, Knowledge Management Projects Officer, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

I work within the RIBA's Research & Development Department, whose motto is 'capturing, sharing and applying professional knowledge in architecture and the built environment'. I'm involved in the strategic planning and implementation of a key initiative, 'RIBA Knowledge Communities'. This is broadly aimed at providing professional networking, communities of practice, and a 'knowledge bank' for architects. I'm also leading on a 'wiki' project focused on developing connections across the architectural research community, and contribute to a range of other initiatives. My role is challenging and rewarding, and I enjoy liaising with internal staff, students, academics and researchers, library professionals, external consultants, and practitioners. More widely, I'm currently on the Steering Group of the Professional Associations Research Network. A combination of library and information roles in a number of sectors, and part-time studying at the University of Sheffield enabled me to further develop specialist, technical, and transferable skills, which have proved to be invaluable.

Jaimee McRoberts, Student

There were a number of reasons which drew me to the University of Sheffield Information School. The fact that the Masters programme being offered by the University of Sheffield was newly accredited by CILIP was a major factor in my selecting it, as several of the other rival universities were needing to go through accreditation again in the very near future, and I did not want to embark on a course which may not be accredited by the time I had completed it. I also was really impressed by the course description, which offered a very structured taught course with enough optional modules to personalise my learning experience. Comparing this course against other university courses available, even those which were not distance learning, this course offered more practical modules which appeared to me at the forefront of current library trends.

At the time of taking each module, it has immediately felt like it would be my favourite module, as all of the staff are very enthusiastic and their passion easily transfers to us as students. In particular, however, I have found the ‘Academic and Workplace Library, Information and Knowledge Services’ module to be my favourite. It is hard to explain why, but I really felt like each week we were covering content that I’d just read about in some magazine or article, or which had come up at work recently. It was very apparent that a lot of effort had been made to ensure the module covered contemporary topics and in such a way that the concept could be introduced, studied, understood, and applied as necessary, in a weekly module. As a learner, this feels like a daunting task, and yet I never felt rushed or incapable of grasping the content. I was highly impressed with the passion of the teaching staff and their talents in being able to teach effectively at such a quick pace.

I was apprehensive as to how much I would like attending online lectures as well as concerned about the workload of a part-time Masters degree along with a full-time job. Fortunately I have found that I really enjoy the online lectures, and that I have been able to balance my work load with my education successfully. The online lectures are convenient and in some respect huge timesavers, as you do not need to travel to and from a classroom to attend the lectures. It is also useful to be able to attend the lecture asynchronously (as opposed to attending it ‘live’) as this means if you are busy at work, or travelling, that you still can keep up with your coursework. The ‘classroom’ is as far away as your nearest internet connection, and I can admit that I attended a live lecture while in the middle of the Atlantic ocean on a cruise ship!

As a mature student, I had been out of formal education for around 8 years prior to embarking on this course, so I had long since given up writing formal essays or other assessed work. Fortunately I have been able to pick things up again quickly and I have found that many of my assignments have achieved a higher grade than I anticipated. It has been interesting connecting with other classmates in a digital environment, and the use of Google+ has helped us interact with one another on a regular basis. I was also fortunate enough to be able to attend a special workshop which was held face-to- face, where distance learning students were invited to attend, if practicable. It was a wonderful experience to meet not only my fellow classmates in person but also to meet my professors, all of whom were thoroughly engaging and just as passionate in person as they had been online. It was a fantastic opportunity and I certainly hope that this will become a more permanent fixture within the module. While I realise not everyone canpossibly attend these types of events, the opportunity to meet one another was a really great experience.

I’d been wondering if I should do this degree for years now, and worrying about how I would cope with the workload and the content. I have personally found that you may have a lot more free time than you realised, and being busy is a worthwhile feeling! Now that I have embarked on this course, I am excited to reach its conclusion, and I certainly feel like I am capable of doing just that – finishing this degree, without losing my head or losing my job! I was so apprehensive but, as one of my fellow classmates said at the workshop we attended, ‘It’s not as bad as I thought it would be’. It has also given me a real edge amongst my colleagues as I have a current awareness of trends and issues, as well as practical knowledge of these topics, that many of my colleagues lack, even those in positions above me. It has also been useful in my understanding the actions being taken at my workplace and even some of the ways in which I have been impacted by changes at my library.