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.


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.


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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