Virginia Power – UWE, Bristol

I tVirginia Powerhought that it was only fair that I should start the blog off with my own post! Each contributor was asked to answer the same few questions – here are my responses!

How did you first get into the information and library profession? My first foray into library and information work was at my school where, at the tender age of 14 I badgered the School Librarian until she took me on as her unpaid helper! For various reasons I opted not to stay on at school and after just a year in a private company as an office junior I got my first job with Wiltshire Library & Museum Service as a Library Assistant working in the school library service. Through this I was introduced into the Film & Video Library and this probably started my love of combining library work with technology.

What qualifications did you take? I completed my first degree in English & Sociology at Bath Spa University College at the age of 30 and whilst working in the University Library as a lunchtime Library Assistant my wonderful boss Julie Parry suggested that I went for the new MSc. in Library and Information Management at the University of Bristol, now run by the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol and I now lecture on this very qualification. I have also studied for an M.Ed. with the Open University and am now just about to embark on a PhD researching learning resource repositories and learning analytics!

What is your current job title? Graduate Tutor & PhD student in the Faculty of Environment & Technology at UWE

What does your job involve? The Graduate Tutor post is relatively new to UWE but generally involves a certain amount of lecturing that is undertaken alongside research in your field – in my case this is Information Science & Management. As a new member of staff I also have to undertake a PGCE in Higher Education. In addition I am also a freelance trainer and digital media consultant delivering workshops to school librarians and other library, museum and archive professionals.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day? This very much depends on which day of the week it is! I have two days a week working from home on my research so these days are largely made up of reading, planning, talking to other professionals in the field and of course writing! The other days I endeavour to spend time at the University working with colleagues, planning my teaching sessions, attending meetings and staff development sessions, and occasionally attending conferences and relevant events for my lectures and my research. I think it is very important that I keep up to date with developments in my field so that I can best support my students and improve my research.

What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional?  First and foremost I would say that you need to be flexible and open to change. I have worked in nearly every type of library that is possible, as well as in advisory roles and being able to transfer skills and knowledge has been hugely beneficial. We are ideally placed to embrace all the exciting new opportunities that are open to us and we should not be afraid to go for it! Lateral thinking is also valuable – making those connections between disparate groups of people and ideas can be key. Digital skills are paramount if you are going to be able to be flexible in this fast moving world. Project management and change management skills are also key skills as well as strong communication and presentation skills.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in information management? This is a most rewarding profession and I would not have gone down a different career route. Be open to the direction you can take and remember to adapt and take in the bigger picture as new opportunities present themselves. I never believed that I would end up doing what I am doing which is my dream role combining library & information management work with teaching and research and I have had the most wonderful journey getting here! Just look at the roles on offer in the knowledge and information management world – it is so exciting to be an information professional!

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