Focus on Alumni is our series of blog posts featuring or written by #citylis alumni. In this post, Yee Xin Chai writes about gaining her first post following graduation and the help she gained from her #citylis course in doing so.
Two months ago I started, not only my first library job, but my first job in general at Nexus International School in Malaysia. I applied for the role of the Library Executive to manage the day-to-day running of the library with two assistants. I am involved with general administrative duties of the library which includes monitoring borrowers and I am in charge of stocktakes and cataloguing. While I am unable to work on new initiatives now we have a whole list of potential projects and training we plan to implement in the next academic year and I am glad to be a part of it.
The library that I work for aims to be a teaching library for the students and so we work closely with their curriculum, teaching them research skills from a young age. In the future I aim to go for training so that I would be qualified to also assist students with researching for their International Baccalaureate extended essays. It is a relatively young library with a lot of big plans and I look forward to bringing in ideas, not just related to reading books, but to improve information literacy and accessibility for the students and staff.
When I first applied for the role, I honestly did not expect that I would get it due to my lack of practical experience. However upon doing the interview I found it very easy to bring in and introduce issues that had been discussed during my #citylis course and one point that I remembered mentioning was how I would design a library influenced by the concept of super browsing and how I felt that libraries have moved beyond a point of being silent reading spaces to areas where we can openly discuss ideas and concepts.
Working in this role I felt that the one thing that heavily influenced me from my course was the people in it, I felt like my understanding of what it means to be a librarian extended beyond the image of someone bookish and introverted, you had to be active and engaged with the users in order to understand what they wanted and how to best resolve their information needs. I think I was very fortunate that the people on my course had been very active and came from all walks of life and I do believe exposure to other information professionals is essential in order to develop a better service.
Another thing that my course had provided me with was a greater interest in digital and electronic information. I never thought I would suggest Twitter and blogging as ways to reach out to students (I am sorry Ernesto for not believing enough) but it is something that I am very eager to implement in the library’s new website. I’m also thankful to have studied web applications simply because I can now chat to our new web designer in more detail about what I want and how it could look!
It is very hard for me to think of a Masters as being ‘just a piece of paper’ because I honestly believe that without it I would not have the exposure and teaching to understand the wider scope of the profession. If I could talk about something a bit different from my job, I’d like to show how much potential there is for it.
When I reached Malaysia I was actually a little bit worried that jobs would be scarce. Much to my surprise, when I showed my interest in knowledge management my aunt invited me to try applying to work in the field the next year, explaining that there has been a growing interest in hiring people in this area. Not only does it give me hope that I can definitely work in my dream profession in the future but that there is, and probably always will be, an information need that we, as professionals, can fill.
Yee Xin Chai is on Twitter, @YXchai.
If you would like to study Library and Information Science, it is not to late to apply for 2016 entry – see here for further details.