How did you first get into the information and library profession? I’m a complete cliché! My love of books and helping people led me to libraries. I left university with a degree in English but no clue as to what to do with my life. I took a temporary job with the DVLA in Birmingham and eventually decided that I enjoyed meeting new people and helping them with their enquiries. Several people had suggested I try library work and my experience at the DVLA, together with my love of books and reading, convinced me to give it a go. I applied for several graduate traineeships and was offered a post at Somerset College. My year there confirmed that libraries were the way forward for me and the next step was a postgraduate course at Aberystwyth. I’ve never looked back!
What qualifications did you take? MSc (Econ) in Information and Library Studies at Aberystwyth. I also undertook NVQ and City & Guilds qualifications in Library Services whilst at Somerset College.
What is your current job title? Librarian
What does your job involve? With two colleagues, I run Dudley College Library on a day-to-day basis. I am responsible for several subject areas within the library and also manage the Audio-Visual collection. I look after the library’s Twitter feed (@DCTLibrary) as well as produce all library materials, such as guides and newsletters. I deliver sessions on Harvard Referencing and library resources.
Can you describe a ‘typical’ day? My day starts with housekeeping duties such as running the overdues, reminders and data imports as well as sorting out desk rotas for the day. I will also have a look at Twitter to see what’s of interest for our followers.
Much of my time is spent on the Enquiry Desk where I help students find the information they need for assignments, be it in books, journals or on the internet. As a college librarian, I deal with queries on a wide range of subjects but all at varying levels and it’s important to establish which information will be most suitable for individual students. In between enquiries, I concentrate on the basics: cataloguing and classifying.
When not on the desk, I could be working on background jobs such as ordering DVDs or writing new library guides. This is also when I would deliver sessions on Harvard Referencing or how to use our resources. These sessions give me the chance to build links with the students and teaching staff and hopefully provide a better service as a result!
What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional? The ability to listen and elicit exactly what people are actually looking for – they don’t always know themselves until you ask a few pertinent questions!
An eye for detail – this is vital for many of the small jobs I do to keep the service ticking over, such as fixing catalogue entries. Every little helps when it comes to providing the best service!
What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in Information Management? Don’t expect a quiet life in a library! It can be very rewarding and always interesting, but never quiet.