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.

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