Welcome to IM and KM England!

The Mummy (1999)

Evelyn: Look, I… I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O’Connell, but I am proud of what I am.
Rick: And what is that?
Evelyn: I… am a librarian.

Information & Knowledge Management Professionals England is designed to provide a showcase for all the explorers, adventurers and treasure-seekers who work in a wide range of organisations in support of effective library and information management. The blog was initiated as part of a wider United Kingdom project. Please visit the About page for more information

Header image: Wordle word cloud by Paul Stainthorp – cropped (CC by-SA 2.0)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yvette Gunther – Head Librarian & Archivist, Nottingham High School

YG Portrait 23 Librarians

How did you first get into the information and library profession? I stood in during a friend’s career break in a small village library in the west of Ireland when my children were young. The Library was only open for perhaps 7 hours per week and doubled as a bank one morning a week but had a regular user group aged from 0 to 85 years of age.  Stock was surprisingly diverse and contemporary.  It provided a lifeline for many, including me!  It was a cost free afternoon destination on seemingly endless damp days.  Always something new to read and great for the village kids with homework tasks pre-internet.  I will be eternally grateful for that sheer good luck.

What qualifications did you take? I have a BA(Hons) and an MA in Photography. I took the Diploma ILS at Aberystwyth by distance learning but ran out of money before the Masters element. Then I chartered.

What is your current job title? Head Librarian/Archivist of an Independent School in the Midlands.

What does your job involve? Jack of all trades. My over-riding responsibility is for Reader Development and Information and Library Skills within the Senior School.  To that end I choose, purchase, manage and promote books and e-resources.  I am customer facing every minute of every day, even during my lunchtime.  I teach information skills from Y3 to Y13 and I will stand in front of any class, assembly, staff briefing or a group of parents, in order to raise the profile of the library.

I have a part-time assistant in the morning which allows me to engage in work that requires focus or work that takes place elsewhere, but for most of the day there is a steady stream of issuing and returning, photocopying, supervising children, recommending, networking with teachers and supporting classes. I also organise reading events like Mulled Wine in the Library at Christmas (staff)  and author visits to the school. I am a Head of Department so I manage a budget and collate statistics on resource use.

I write a blog to link to our subscription e-resources from outside school and promote reading. I try to post at least once a month and endeavor to aim my posts at pupils and staff although it is visited from all over. E-resources are dynamic and vulnerable to technology changes so regularly checking they are still available, and teaching pupils and staff how to access them has become a large part of my role in the last five years.

Unusually, my Librarian role is combined with the responsibility for the school Archives, the majority of which are stored in the library office. As an untrained Archivist my work in the archive, (apart from responding to regular requests for information) is undertaken during the school holiday periods.  This takes the form of everything from receiving, cataloging and storage to dissemination and promotion.   I can’t estimate how many items we have on site but the documents I mainly work from are handwritten Registers from 1807 and School Magazines from 1869.

I spent several years cataloging 800 photographs dating from 1869 which for an ex-photographer was a labour of love besides providing a great marketing tool for the School.  The photographs were immeasurably useful for exhibitions and displays during the school’s 500th Anniversary and since.  I am currently working with an Archive Management system to eventually create third party online access to the whole collection and I have also created an online WW1 Roll of Honour using open source software which enables me to share information with interested researchers.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day? My colleague opens the Library at 8am and pupils start to arrive immediately. I start at about 8.15, get a coffee and cull my emails in-between talking to pupils as they return books, borrow laptops or answer Reading Challenge Questions. The diary holds the time-tabled classes which determine the structure of the day. I then set about responding to the emails.  Today these included the final booking of an Author visit for World Book Day in March 2016.  We were lucky to find someone that we particularly want this late and it has taken a few days to coordinate management agreement, timetable and availability.

I am in email correspondence with a researcher from a WW2 RAF memorial website who requires names and dates from our registers of those killed in return for service information.  A gentleman wants to deliver his father’s 1920s school blazer so I email our Alumni relations officer to warn her of the arrival time and arrange parking.  I forward on an RSS feed on Anti-Bullying Week to a senior manager and send a final list of overdue textbook to the Head of Maths.

Textbook management is not one of our responsibilities but we agreed to trial one group of A’level  textbooks to estimate losses and see whether costs would be recovered.  The exercise has certainly been costly in Librarian hours.

One of my volunteer Archivists from the Old Boy’s community arrives at 10 to carry on digitizing a register in the Library office and I get a second coffee.

A Y7 English class arrives and I use a Reading Game to introduce them to the Reading Challenge. At 11.20 it is break-time and we tidy up, issue, return and talk books.   We also issue Laptops for use within the library and they require significant support.  Our IT trouble-shooting skills are in constant demand.  NumLk is a favourite.  At 12 I use my 30 minutes lunch in the dining hall to speak with other support staff and teachers, some of whom I rarely see otherwise.  This is essential networking because it is hard to get 10 minutes one to one time with teachers who are tightly time-tabled all day.

At the moment promoting our e-books is a priority before the holidays.  My library-assistant has her lunch and then we are both back at our desk for the pupils’ lunchtime.  The Library is divided into Upper School and Lower School, both of which require supervision to remain quiet conducive working spaces.  In the afternoons I‘m on my own, so I order and dispose, review stock and new publishing, create displays and plan (in-between classes).

What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional? School Libraries require empathetic customer service, good verbal communication, energy and a sense of humour.   It is extremely easy to make a child feel uncomfortable.   I had to lose a tendency to sarcasm early on.   You also need to find the right resource quickly before your client loses interest.  You need good IT skills and the commitment to learn more as you go along.  Adaptability, multi-tasking, tolerance and patience.  You need some teaching ability and good classroom control skills, although I learnt these by watching good teachers.

A school librarian needs to be a sociable person with good social skills and to be a self- starter as, often a sole-worker, you must adapt  your work-tasks to your varied hourly work-load.  Some people think that if there isn’t a child in the library, you must be free also.  Lastly but importantly you must read widely, especially Children’s and YA literature, because recommendations go a long way and fashions change, plus it helps you understand some of the issues of your user group better.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in Information Management? Broaden your education, always expect to be taking on and adapting new information. (I think my Arts degrees laid the groundwork for this career).

Develop good ICT skills and the ability to use but not get lost in Social Media.    Be approachable and pro-active and read what you are trying to promote. Embrace CPD to stay fresh and engaged.




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Emily Armstrong, Libraries & eLearning Manager, Hull College Group

Emily Armstrong

How did you first get into the information and library profession? I was inspired to work in libraries through doing work experience in my school library and public libraries and worked as a Saturday girl in the public libraries before going to university.

What qualifications did you take? I studied for a BA Information & Library Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. I have since studied a CMI Level 7 in Strategic Management and am currently completing an MSc in Technology Enhanced Learning part-time at the University of Huddersfield.

What is your current job title? Libraries & eLearning Manager for the Hull College Group

What does your job involve? As well as overseeing library services across 5 sites I am responsible for the eLearning team who maintain the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) and the staff intranet and training staff to use a range of new technologies to enhance their teaching.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day? One of the nice thing about FE is there are very few typical days! Today I have done a mixture of:

  • line management duties (re-writing a job description in consultation with other colleagues)
  • some ‘library manager’ tasks (such as filling out a benchmarking questionnaire and making decisions about subscriptions)
  • eLearning work (making some changes to the structure of our VLE)
  • ‘subject librarian’ tasks (a library induction session, adding reading list links to the VLE and ordering some new material)
  • and most importantly customer service – dealing with student enquiries face-to-face, by e-mail and through our chat system about issuing library cards, finding books, dealing with password problems and helping students access material on the VLE.

What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional? I think customer service skills and interpersonal skills are key – it is also important to have good management skills (especially time management!), excellent digital literacy and the desire to innovate. Of course you still need good information retrieval skills and skills such as teaching and marketing are useful, particularly at certain times of year.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in Information Management? My key advice would be to be flexible – develop as wide a range of skills and knowledge as you can and never turn down the chance to be involved in projects even if they seem a little outside the traditional ‘library’ job description. Be patient and be prepared to attend a lot of meetings!

To get real enjoyment from this job make sure you enjoy working with technology, organizing things and most of all working with people as the main satisfaction will come from providing a service to others.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Helen Pullen, Librarian, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

Helen Pullen

How did you first get into the information and library profession? Interestingly it wasn’t my first choice. I had my heart set on a career in environmental science and a desire to work outdoors. But after a Saturday job in a local library my parent’s persuaded me that I should consider this as a serious career option. And the rest is history!

What qualifications did you take? I enrolled on a BSc Information Management course at Manchester Metropolitan University. According to my colleague, I’m part a dying breed, it seems most librarians have varied backgrounds and go down the Masters route for their qualification.

What is your current job title? Librarian for University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust but I was Deputy Library Manager before I left to have my second child. I don’t believe that a title should define who I am or my perception to others, it’s my job to make sure that users associate the title with our expertise and the work we do.

What does your job involve? I spend a lot of my time literature searching! It is one of the skills we have as librarians that we like to promote. So it’s really rewarding when someone comes back to the library to thank us for the hard work especially if it has supported change of practice or patient care. I’m currently part of a drive to do more outreach activities because of the recent Health Education England Knowledge for Healthcare Framework document Knowledge-for-healthcare-framework.pdf .

Consequently, I spend a lot of my time identifying new outreach projects which involves working with multidisciplinary teams across the Trust. I prepare current awareness bulletins for departments around the hospitals and load them, up onto the intranet and external website. I’m heavily involved with the implementation of our new training programmes which includes critical appraisal and an introduction to basic statistics. To a non-mathematician this was initially quite daunting but when you realise that you know more than the course participants it increases your confidence and the more training I do the more confident I become.

Over the years I have seen an increasing amount of my time spent marketing library resources and more recently the skills I possess as a librarian. And finally some of my time is spent at the reception desk but not a lot and if we have new books then I will catalogue/classify and get them out onto the shelves.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day?  As many librarians have already said on this blog, there is no such thing as a typical day. I usually start my day by writing a to-do list. This inevitably goes out of the window but I try to stick to it the best I can. I plough through my emails, deleting as many as I can! I scan through the weekly Trust News bulletin for any potential leads for outreach projects. If I’m not training, editing the latest current awareness bulletin or attending a journal club/meeting and I find myself with a quiet moment  I’ll probably try to fit in some CPD work, at the moment I’m preparing my Chartership application.

What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional? It goes without saying that as information professionals you have to flexible and open to change. Good communication, customer service skills and a sound knowledge of ICT is essential. I still believe that our core librarian skills are important but in order to support the next generation we need to keep up to date with the advancement in technology.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in Information Management? Embrace the changes that are happening to our profession, don’t be intimidated but look at ways of developing and see the positive opportunities. Don’t underestimate the Chartership process, over the last year I have learnt many things just by visiting libraries in other sectors.

Continuing professional development is essential. I’ve learnt the need to horizon scan, whether that be for new career opportunities or emerging trends that could impact on the sector in which you work because it is those changes that will have an effect on its staff and finally on the library and us as individuals.

Get involved in the wider profession as much as you can, it’s not something I did when I graduated and I’ve come to regret that decision.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Elliot Austin, Yorkshire Music Library Assistant

Elliot and Sophie 2

How did you first get into the information and library profession? I got into the profession via an apprenticeship. After my apprenticeship finished I was offered a permanent role with the library.

What qualifications did you take? I took a Customer Service Apprenticeship.

What is your current job title? Music Library Assistant, Yorkshire Music Library

What does your job involve? General operations i.e. Responding to borrower enquiries, processing orders and returns.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day? A typical day includes: Check emails, respond to enquiries, assist customers on the phone, send out orders, greeting customers for collections, returning items, general housekeeping.

What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional?  Good customer service skills, good background knowledge, desire to be helpful – good people skills.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in Information Management? Do a bit of research into the different types of libraries that are out there. Some may appeal to you and suit your skill set more than others.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sophie Anderson, Yorkshire Music Library Co-ordinator

Elliot and Sophie 1.jpg

How did you first get into the information and library profession? I got into the library profession by volunteering with Manchester City Council library service in 2013. This gave me the experience I needed to apply to work in a library.

What qualifications did you take? I graduated from a Postgraduate Degree in Music in November 2013 but have yet to take any formal library qualifications. I plan on enrolling to complete an MA in Library & Information Management in 2015.

What is your current job title? Yorkshire Music Library Co-ordinator at the Yorkshire Music Library.

What does your job involve? Co-ordinating the busy performance set hire service of the Yorkshire Music Library collection in Huddersfield.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day? A typical day includes: Preparing orders, responding to enquiries, social media, marketing & promotions, cataloguing, invoicing.

What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional? Customer Service – Active Outreach & Engagement with Borrowers. Adaptability – library services should cater directly to their individual borrowers needs.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in Information Management? I would definitely ‘try before you buy’ – There is such a wide variety of different roles within a library that it’s also a good idea to shadow different staff. My experience volunteering definitely confirmed that working in libraries was a suitable pathway for me.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anne Middleton, Head of Customer Services, Robinson Library, Newcastle University

AnneMiddletonHow did you first get into the information and library profession?

Well, I have to admit it was somewhat accidental, but that seems true of many of my fellow professionals! After completing a degree in Agricultural Science and a Postgraduate Diploma in Natural Resource Management I suffered a number of years of ill health when I was unable to work.   I decided that I needed some new career options and I was looking for types of vocational training that I could undertake part-time and which would allow me to work as and when my health dictated.

Being a sensible person I visited my local public library to find out about courses in my local city and I had the very good fortune to be guided by a wonderful Librarian. I was considering a legal course or perhaps teaching but a Library course was suggested and furthermore an interview was arranged for the following day with the Admissions tutor at my local University – I had overnight to think of an answer to “why do you want to be a librarian?”!

It was only after I started the course that I began to understand the journey on which I had embarked. I am grateful to the teaching staff at Northumbria University at that time, especially Eileen Saez and Margaret Watson (former CILIP President), for demonstrating the values and ideals of the profession and providing me with a model to which to aspire.

What qualifications did you take? I began studying the Postgraduate Diploma in Information and Library Management which I upgraded to Masters level by completing a dissertation once I was working. I then gained Chartered status and also completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice.

What is your current job title? I am currently Head of Customer Services in a large university library.

What does your job involve? As Head of Customer Services I am responsible for planning, delivering, marketing and evaluating services for our customers. This includes all the traditional circulation functions (yes, we still have lots of books), but also enquiry services and the management of the study environment. If that sounds like a lot it is, but thankfully I have the assistance of a large team of hard working staff as well as a supportive manager.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day? Well, I guess everyone is going to say ‘no’ to this one but I’ll give it a go. Most days will involve one (or several) meetings; despite frequent discussions about whether as many meetings are a worthwhile use of time, they do seem to get things done and are an effective way of engaging with colleagues and library users.

Having a large team, and being a proponent of ‘mbwa’ (managing by walking around), I generally try to do just that every day as it helps me discover what is going on with everyone and how the service is running. It is also a great way to generate and discuss ideas for service developments in a more dynamic and informal way. Another benefit of mbwa is that it allows me to follow the old mantra of trying to “catch individuals doing something right”.

Although I don’t always have the time, I do like to walk around public areas of the Library most days but particularly when we are busy, to observe what the library environment is like. The rest of the time will usually find me in the office (usually with an open door for staff), doing anything from sorting out prizes for a Library Fresher’s Week Tombola to planning staffing for a ‘Pop-up Library’!

What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional? My mother once described me as ‘a jack of all trades and master of none’, but somehow, with Librarianship, this has come good! Currently for me management skills are important but it is vital to have good communications skills and a degree of emotional intelligence. However, fundamentally, I think you also need to have a good base of information skills and an understanding of information architecture. After all, these are the strengths that make our qualities as librarians unique.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in Information Management? My first question to anyone considering a career working in a library would be to ask them if they like books, reading and being in libraries. If I received an effusive response I would then warn that book-loving introverts who think that Information Management can give them a ‘nice, quiet job’ need to think again!

The really crucial question is – ‘Do you like people and think that a career working with and helping people would suit?’ If the answer to that is ‘yes’ and they are looking for an exciting, fast moving, multifaceted career with a wide diversity of options then perhaps Information Management for them.   Oh, by the way, it is still okay to like books…





Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anna James, Antiquarian Cataloguer, Angus Library & Archive, Regent’s Park College, Oxford

Anna James (2)

How did you first get into the information and library profession? On graduating from university in 2003 I decided to put some gap-year gained secretarial skills to use in a non-graduate level administrative role to gain work confidence. The job was far too easy for me (I often finished my official workload by 9.30), but the firm recognised my abilities and gave me the task of archiving the entire filing system.

After 18 months, I felt assured enough to start looking around for higher level jobs, and having found the archiving project enjoyable, decided to look into information management. I went and had a chat with the (now defunct) Infomatch Cilip recruitment agency, who explained the graduate trainee scheme to me. Trainee job list in hand, I applied for jobs in business libraries (I had office experience and a suit) and historic libraries (I speak Latin).

I quickly found myself with a job offer at Lambeth Palace Library, the historic library and archive of the Archbishops of Canterbury. I remained there throughout my training, and continued to be employed at a professional level for several years.

What qualifications did you take? First degree in Classics, MA in Library and Information Studies (both UCL).

What is your current job title? Antiquarian Cataloguer, Angus Library & Archive, Regent’s Park College, Oxford. Follow us at @RPCLibrary

What does your job involve? Cataloguing antiquarian books, oddly enough. It’s part of a 3-year project financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Baptist Union of Great Britain to catalogue backlogs of archives and printed books, and also to promote the library to new users and encourage access. In addition to me, the project also employs a modern cataloguer (‘modern’ meaning anything after 1830), archivist, education and outreach officer, and administrator. Over and above cataloguing work, I pitch in with exhibitions and outreach events, tweeting and blogging, and generally organise the cataloguing side of the project. I’m also trying to raise the profile of the historic collection by getting involved with the wider rare books world. I’m the newsletter editor for the CILIP Library and Information History Group which means I can always get good coverage for our exhibitions!

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day? Every day I have a target of 10 books to get catalogued. This has to happen almost regardless of circumstances, so it’s not a job where every day is different. However, the collections at the Angus Library are really interesting. Regent’s Park College was founded (in London, as Stepney College) in 1810 to train Baptist ministers, and is one of the leading collections of historic Baptist materials in the world.

Traditionally, Baptists tend to have their roots in the working classes, so the literature produced by and for them is not of the highest printing quality, and has not been highly prized by bibliophiles. As a result many important early Baptist works have become very rare, and are now of considerable importance to those studying religious non-conformity.

However, as the college was founded with an aim of improving the intellectual credibility of Baptists, the founding Stepney College collections have uncovered an unexpected array of bibliographic treasures collected by the earliest staff from a copy of Augustine censored by the Spanish Inquisition, to a 19th century biography given to William Wilberforce by John Ryland, and later obtained by the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon.

 What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional? To work with rare books, cataloguing is still a really important skill, even for those who do not have ‘cataloguer’ in their job title. The standards used for early printed material are slightly different from those used for modern items, but the rule book has recently been made available online for free (http://rbms.info/dcrm/dcrmb/), and there are regular cataloguing courses run by the CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group and the Historic Libraries Forum, which I would strongly recommend. Understanding basic preservation and conservation is also important, as you can’t weed books when the cover gets worn if it’s the only copy in the world! And of course you have to be able to prove the worth of a historic collection to its owners.

It’s all too easy for a cash poor organisation to look at its valuable library as portable property to be sold off to pay bills. It’s no longer enough to insist that books are important just because. You have to be able to infect your organisation with your own enthusiasm for the collection, and make it a source of communal pride to your colleagues.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in Information Management? The key for getting to work in rare books tends to be existing experience in working with rare books, which suffers from a certain circular logic. However, there are always lots of chances to get involved in the rare books and special collections community by joining committees, and particularly by volunteering.

It’s surprising how many churches, tiny municipal museums or venerable charities own a collection of early printed books, and would be delighted at an offer of help from a professional librarian, and many small professionally run historic libraries will gladly exchange rare book skills for good quality volunteering. Send off a few messages to ‘Contact us’ sections of websites, and see what happens…

Anna James


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Carolin Schneider, Language Zone Manager, University of Leeds

Carolin Schneider.jpg

How did you first get into the information and library profession? I studied to become a librarian in Germany and started temping as a library assistant when I moved to England after university. I worked in various roles in that first organisation, and also worked in a book shop for a year before getting my first professional full-time post.

What qualifications did you take? I finished university as Diplom-Bibliothekarin (FH), which is classed as the German equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in the UK.

Since then I have become a chartered librarian, an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA), and hold a Professional Certificate in Management from the Open University. I am currently studying towards an MA in Technology, Education and Learning.

What is your current job title? Language Zone Manager at the University of Leeds.

What does your job involve? In my role as manager of a Higher Education language learning library, I lead a team of two part-time librarians and six counter assistants, as well as resources to provide effective and efficient delivery of individual language learning support services to university staff and students. This mainly involves budgeting, project management, research (of materials and learning in general), liaising with other departments and organisations, and marketing.

I work closely with the Language Learning Adviser who is based in my library, and is available for one-to-one sessions, workshops and general language learning advice, as well as the technical team who support language tutors.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day?  I usually get to the office just before 8am and check my emails. Then I make a to-do list for the day (unless I already have one), and work my way through that. Often that will involve routine tasks such as updating the daily log (for communicating with the whole team, as some of us never see each other), sending overdue letters, transcribing the daily 7.30am Radio 4 news and setting up the counter ready to open up at 9am.

The rest of the morning is often filled with emails and meetings, or purchase orders and finding new materials to buy or develop. I am also currently involved in several projects, such as a project about digital listening materials to help students with understanding different accents, and deciding on a new Library Management System. I also keep an eye on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, both for information and for monitoring work accounts.

The librarians will start work at lunchtime, so when they come in I usually go through any important business with them, for example if something needs cataloguing urgently, then carry on with other work. I try and remember to have lunch.

Before going home at around 4pm, I make a to-do list for the next day if anything has not been done, or cannot be handed over to the librarian who is on duty in the evening. I also make a quick note of what I did during the day, to aid reflection later on.

What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional? I think it is essential to be adaptable, pro-active and willing to network extensively. I think it’s also important to realise that a master’s degree will not automatically get you a job, but you need to be willing to take every opportunity to learn and develop.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in Information Management? It’s okay not to be the loudest, but talk to people in the profession (and related professions such as marketing) and take advantage of their tips and experience. Work hard and make friends with porters and people who understand the organisation’s politics.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Clare Brown, Library & Information Manager, Collyer Bristow LLP

Collyer Bristow LLP Partners and Staff, 2014

Collyer Bristow LLP Partners and Staff, 2014

How did you first get into the information and library profession? A teacher at our school’s Sixth Form wondered if a friend and I would be interested in going for the two Saturday assistant jobs at the local library. He thought we’d be ideal as we were quiet, studious types. Luckily, I was anything but quiet and really enjoyed helping and talking to people.

What qualifications did you take? I did a joint honours degree in Library & Information Studies with English. I wanted to do something relatively vocational, and yet keep my options open regarding academia. In truth, I loved English and I knew that if I found the management and computing aspects hard, I could relax with some literature.

What is your current job title? Library & Information Manager with Collyer Bristow LLP, a leading London-based law firm.

What does your job involve? I primarily carry out legal and business research, adding value by summarising or highlighting relevant aspects of it, for the lawyers or other business services staff.

I manage and administer the library collection and information to ensure that we are getting the best value from our resources. This includes carrying out training and inductions, journal circulations, managing the library budget and negotiating with suppliers. I continuously monitor new products relevant to the legal sector, so clients can be assured that their lawyers are using the best information tools for the job.

I provide current awareness so that lawyers receive targeted alerts, with additional client and industry monitoring for those who request it. This ensures that when they are advising clients, working on matters, or simply writing articles for the firm’s website, they are aware of hot industry topics.

I’m a member of the firm’s Social Media Committee, and a regular contributor to the firm’s Cyber Investigation Unit website. I also sit on the Art Gallery committee because I enjoy being involved with the firm’s cultural contribution to the art world, which combines with my academic interest in art history.

Primarily offering guidance on the use of social media and related matters within a professional environment, I provide guest blogs on a variety of library and information issues. I have also provided database content for both legal and library publishers.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day? A typical day starts at home from about 7.30 when I start compiling the daily bulletin. This involves scanning the newspapers and checking various government, law report and legislation RSS feeds. I check newsletters or alerts in my email for any articles I may have missed. Once collated, the hypertext linked headlines bulletin goes to all fee earners, but if I see anything of particular interest to someone, I send the full article directly.

Once I’ve gone through all the news emails editing and forwarding as necessary, and deleted the many sales emails, the only ones left are queries. I judge whether they are urgent and need doing whilst I am at home, or whether I can do them when I get in at about 10.30. If it is a quick question, I do it ASAP so that the answer is there waiting for the fee earner before they get into the office.

Upon my arrival in the office I do the paper post and circulate journals, and ensure that I complete anything leftover from the morning’s emails. Yesterday it was important to ensure that the accounts department had all my invoices because my main contact there is going on holiday. There were also some queries which had turned up during my commute. Given I use the underground, I listen to podcasts or catch up with something entirely non-work related!

Once all the paper has been cleared, I then have a clear stretch to focus. For instance yesterday I had to prepare for a Cyber Investigation Unit (CIU) meeting, where I was responsible for two agenda items. Firstly I had to review and improve their current awareness alerts; secondly I had to collate social media/cyber bullying and harassment stories which had broken over the summer. As a result of the meeting, a few of us, including me, have to produce an article on a social media related topic for the firm’s website.

The first or second week in September sees the new intake of trainees in law firms, and qualifying trainees move into their departments. Therefore there were a number of amendments to make to the library management system; new people were added and circulation lists amended. I carried out inductions earlier in the week so I’m anticipating, and preparing for, a raft of one-to-one training next week.

During these periods of admin or preparing for meetings, I may be asked to prepare a briefing note on an individual or company because someone is going to a client meeting. IT may call me to ask where a CD Rom of precedents needs to be saved. I may also need to pause because a news bulletin needs to be forwarded urgently.

In common with all other library staff, there is no such thing as a typical day. It’s dependent on the needs of the lawyers. I’ve just moved offices and am now sat amongst a different set of litigators and they are taking full advantage of my research services which is great.

What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional? Technical library skills such as the ability to carry out research efficiently, maintain and develop a library collection, a good knowledge of IT, and a genuine interest in library matters, are all taken for granted.

Therefore you need technical skills as standard. In my sector everyone appreciates excellent communication skills, an outgoing ‘can do’ attitude, as well as an inherent interest in the subject, current affairs, and the outside world.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in Information Management? Get as much library experience as you can before you start university or higher education. When you are at college/university, think carefully about which sector appeals and write to places asking for a visit, or have an honest chat with the people who work there – you never know, they may invite you to do some work experience in the holidays.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fiona Fogden, Head of Customer Relations, Linex and Freelancer/Trainer

Fiona Fogden.jpg

How did you first get into the information and library profession? I first got into the Library Profession as I was reaching for the stars, quite literally. I desperately wanted to be the first woman on Mars, but my exceptionally supportive and patient father said I wasn’t aiming high enough, my goal should be to be the first person on Mars. So we went to the library to research how one might go about becoming an astronaut. I was eight or nine. I spent the whole summer doing research, borrowing books, sitting in the library, asking the librarians loads of questions. I did end up getting involved in aviation and getting my pilot’s licence, but the thrill of finding out new things and being a point of knowledge became the new goal that I sought.

From there it was an easy step to lunchtime library monitor (yes I have one of those enamel badges to prove it!) and from there 4 years of shelving books as a Saturday job in my local public library as a teenager. I found I needed to fund my way through university, a degree in English Literature (not Librarianship!) and so worked every summer in a number of the libraries in my borough, doing three months at a time, with a huge range of library experience from the music library where I learnt about the existence of a ‘hum dictionary’ to the social services element where I got to meet some amazing elderly people in care homes and take them a selection of books.

 What qualifications did you take? Four summers of three months equals a year of work experience in libraries and it seemed that although other options were open to me it just made sense that after my degree I go straight into a post-graduate course in Library and Information Studies.

Some of the more established schools didn’t like my route of experience and also didn’t know my final degree result when I was applying so although I got offered places at Loughborough – the offer of a bursary, the fact I didn’t have to do hours of cataloguing and classification (bad librarian!) each week, and that computers featured highly on the learning agenda at University of Central England meant an easy choice for me in going there. It is sad they no longer run the course; I think they were ahead of their time and know that their forward thinking and their inclusion of new trends has held me in very good stead.

What is your current job title? I don’t have a single job title. I now have a ‘portfolio of roles’. These are:

  • Head of Customer Relations (at Linex Systems)
  • Freelance Librarian (self employed)
  • Trainer (For Aslib)

Past job titles have been Saturday Shelver, Assistant Librarian, Research Librarian, Research Services Manager, Library & Information Centre Manager, National Information Services Manager, Information Procurement Team Lead.

What does your job involve? At Linex I look after the needs of our customers. Many of whom are Librarians. I do demonstrations of the product, write guidance materials, training, answer questions, act as a liaison between publishers and our customers, manage feedback into our Product Development cycle. My boss tells me that I am a salesperson too, but I prefer the title of ‘product evangelist’.

In my freelance role I work with mainly law firm libraries in a variety of ways. I help them review budgets, create library project plans for firms that are merging, look at the value they are getting from their providers if they have elements of their service outsourced. I also have experience of helping with projects such as new Library Management systems, rolling out other solutions such as Research Monitor etc. My experience builds each time I take on a new project, but a lot of it also taken from my time as a Library Manager in both a major law firm and a major Tax and Accounting firm.

For Aslib I deliver training courses on Negotiation and on Using Excel to manage your library budget.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day? No. Typical days don’t exist.

What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional? The ability to adapt.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in Information Management? Keep an eye on the job adverts and when you see lots in one area think about what skills you need to do that job. Even if you love your job and have no intention of moving, if you start never seeing jobs that you could do, it may be a warning sign that you are either in an exceptionally unique job, or you need to think about other roles you could do.

If you don’t have the skills, consider training courses, reading up, volunteering. If you do develop a specialism then still continually update your skills as you never know where this fast paced market will take you…or leave you behind. I heartily recommend getting involved in your local or specialist information body, for example SLA Legal Division, BIALL (British and Irish Association of Law Librarians or CLIG (City Legal Information Group)They help raise your profile, often run excellent courses and are good networking opportunities.




Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment