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.