Applying to study library and information science, CPD25, November 8th 2013

A guest post from one of our current graduate trainees, Alex Giles, of a course organised for CPD25 by yours truly. – Samantha

What better way to cheer yourself up on  a wet day in November, nursing a cold as I was, than to spend it in the company of some wise  and inspiring individuals generously sharing their passion and expertise with some keen but naive young acolytes…?  No, not an episode of The Karate Kid – none of us were quite as cool as Jaden Smith (hey, we’re aspiring librarians…), or as young – but the Applying to Study Library and Information Science day run by CPD25.

Work with schools : a librarian's assistant telling a story ...
The event was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike this.

We were taken on a journey – it’s always a journey, isn’t it? – from a wide-ranging overview of where the profession is right now, with all its challenges and opportunities incisively explained by Stephen Pinfield from Sheffield iSchool, to individual students’ experiences of current courses and recent employment. Along the way we heard from Vanda Broughton of UCL about what to expect from a Masters course in library science and some top tips on how to apply for one, and Bethan Ruddock who, as author of “The New Professional’s Toolkit”, was expertly placed to point us in the right direction of developing our skills and confidence, as well as promoting  a myriad of groups for us to contribute to; exhorting us to speak out loud and proud as Library advocates! Of course we didn’t have to join everything , and we were allowed to say “no”-  but was that a bit feeble? Not strict enough? Shameful even?

Just as some of us were beginning to feel slightly overwhelmed, and distinctly worried that entering the cult of the champion librarian was going to take up rather more time (and stamina…) than we’d planned, the lunch gong sounded and we dived into some first –rate sandwiches, juice etc.  This was an opportunity to find out more about some of the various programmes on offer in the UK from the informal “course fair” and their “stallholders”, and make some new friends as Bethan had suggested; network, but not in a nasty  way…

In the afternoon we heard experiences from recent graduates and those still studying, which made the morning session that much more specific and concrete for us. Alexandra Burton, who has just started as an Assistant Librarian at University College School, recently completed a Post-Grad Diploma at UCL; just stopping short of writing the dissertation and gaining the traditional Master’s, but still ably qualified. This was an option I hadn’t heard of before, and one that provided much food for thought and debate.

Ian Clark, now employed as a Library Systems Officer at Canterbury Christ  Church  University , shared the benefits of  a modular  study programme within distance learning (Aberystwyth) , and there were other experiences of part-time study whilst working full-time. A lot of the discussion centred around finding a course that suited your aspirations, and your pocket…With fees increasing at an alarming rate, and little help available, the cost of funding a library course proved a major issue in the Q & A, and subsequent chat in the pub…

As I wended my way to my part-time evening job I reflected on what I’d learnt, and what I hadn’t learnt (always useful…), and mused that rather than being daunted by the monastic commitment  to professional development, or the array of choices before me, I  would remember what Vanda had said: “We don’t expect you to do all of it, just some  of it…” Right then… Now, where to start? Join CILIP?

Many thanks to Samantha Halford  and  Helen Williamson of CPD25 for organising not just a very interesting and useful day, but also for creating such a warm and comfortable atmosphere; very conducive…

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