The well travelled road and the not so well travelled road (CPD23 Thing 10 and 11)

My route into librarianship is probably considered the traditional route to take.

Despite being a pupil librarian (got to go to lunch first every day) and even work experience in the local public library, I had no grand plans to become a librarian. For my first degree I studied Physiology and presumed I would follow with a career in this area. However my final year hit, I had some work experience in a lab and thought I don’t want to spend the rest of my days in a lab – what do I do now? Frantic browsing in the Careers office dug up librarianship, a career where I could perhaps use my degree but not work in a lab, and librarians with a science background were in short supply. Liking the odds I decided to follow this route and apply for Graduate Traineeships. At the time I did this there were loads and loads of Graduate Traineeships.  I managed to get a place at UCL. The year I started there was approx 10 of us graduate trainees, I am not sure there are any now which I think is unfortunate. It was great to be a graduate trainee with so many others who you could chat with, exchange experience and look at which library school to apply to etc etc.

I obviously thought my graduate trainee year was great as the only library school I applied to was UCL. Although that may have had more to do with meeting the love of my life during that year and yes readers I married him (a few years later). I did my MA part-time while working full-time. I still have mixed thoughts about the MA, it was hard work, fitting in course work and making up hours from day release. Though I still have fond memories of late night chinese take-aways and playing Dino Crisis to the wee small hours of the morning. I can scarcely believe some of the courses I studied (one involved lots of videos of people filing, using a variety of colour coding and filing cabinets). I am grateful that I took the cataloguing course, although I’m not and couldn’t hope to be a cataloguer, I do understand and use that cataloguing knowledge day to day. However I am uncertain how much of the other courses I use. I think a lot has changed thankfully and sometimes wish I could study there now as I’m sure it would be more useful.

After my MA I kept working at UCL, gradually working my way up the pay scales within bibliographic services. Then came children and they were my priority which my work-place were very good at accommodating. Just before my second child came along I got the chance to have some subject librarian experience. This was the kind of post I wanted to have since I got the MA and for me it had the extra bonus of being in the life sciences field so directly related to my undergraduate degree. After my second maternity leave I got another lucky break as about the time I was due to return, a part-time subject librarian post became available within the science team (not quite my area as  engineering, maths and physical sciences, but near enough to count). I still count myself lucky to have this post and I do really enjoy my job. It has variety, lots of student contact and teaching and lots of departmental liaison. On good days I even get that feeling that something I did made a difference.

So what now? Well I am currently studying for a PGcert in teaching and learning which I am really enjoying (much better than my MA, I even like the coursework). I hope to complete this by the end of this year. Through writing this post has brought it back to me how much I wanted to combine my degree and librarianship so perhaps I will start looking again at working in medical libraries.

Mentoring

I don’t really have much to say about this (hence including it here). I’ve neither a mentor not mentee be, although I have had lots of people I work with that I admire. We do have a mentee scheme where I work for new members of library staff which I think is great. They are usually someone from another area of the library that can help answer all questions about the organisations idiosyncracies and be a friendly face when you are new. In a weird way I see my twitter network as being my mentor, there are people to ask questions of, people to have a friendly chat with, people to inspire and people to be your support network when you need it.

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About Lynne Meehan
Librarian interested in teaching, infolit, ux and open access. Also Mum, knitter, baker, walker and very amateur photographer. I may also like cows.

One Response to The well travelled road and the not so well travelled road (CPD23 Thing 10 and 11)

  1. Pingback: The long and winding road (Thing 20 – Library routes) | Librarycow's library reflections

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