Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Thing 10: How I got here...

I'm catching up slowly on the missed weeks, we'll get there, simply because I find this so interesting learning about others jobs, what they think about everything. With 13 things to go, so not even half way through, I'm beginning to think this is the best CPD I've done in my career. Thanks CPD23!

To get to the task in hand... (I know this is going to be a long post from me, but am not sure how I'll shorten it yet!)

Well I originally trained as a maths teacher at Loughborough University. OK, well to those in the UK, you'll know Loughborough as one of the main/best? places to study librarianship in the country (well certainly in the early 90s!) I had plenty of friends studying in the department and I was finding my own course difficult and wondering if I'd chosen the right career. In my final year, the main Pilkington University Library ran a quiz, where students were encouraged to find out answers to questions using the many different resources, early online databases, microfilm, etc. I loved it and got so much from it. Needless to say, I won the quiz and the book token prize. I was hooked by this time and looked about how to train as a librarian.

Pilkington Libraray, Loughborough University, my introduction to a career in libraries

The teaching probationary year was scrapped, so to all intents of purposes I was a maths teacher. So after graduating, instead of looking for a teaching post, I decided to look for a library job. By this time, many of the graduate trainee posts had gone, so I began to look locally. It took until the November, when I got a library assistant post for Kent County Council. They were very good and gave me a few extra things to do, since they knew I wanted to qualify in libraries. In those days many of the graduate trainee posts were advertised centrally, so I applied for a number of posts. I next became the Graduate Trainee at the University of the West of England in Bristol working on what used to be the Education College site in Redland.

This post was a dream, I was learning about the "professional" side of librarianship and working with students training to teach. I knew exactly what they were going through and could empathise with time-keeping problems, staying up late to catch up on lesson planning, striving to find materials to make lessons interesting.

After the twelve months there, I went on to do the Masters at what was the University of Central England in Birmingham. (I tried Loughborough, but couldn't get the funding.) I initially was only going to do the Diploma, but me being me, it wasn't enough and managed to get the Masters (I'm not sure my tutor thought I would!)

Anyway, that's the early years, since then, I worked for a public library for about 9 months, then went on to be a school librarian for about 18 months (this I consider to be my first professional post). Then I moved to an FE college as a Learning Resources Adviser, delivering skills sessions and also taking on the library management system. (Not to mention teaching A-level maths along the way!) I then took a post as a Systems Librarian for another FE college. I was still delivering skills sessions as well as managing all electronic resources and the LMS. This is my longest post to date (about eight years).

From there I went to work for a small university managing the campus library. This was a school of education library, so again I was dealing with students learning to teach. I loved the post, ti gave me an introduction to management, but the campus was unfortunately closed and I was forced to leave. Which takes me on to my current post, as an Information Services Librarian for Herts County Council. I've come full circle back into public libraries. I actually quite enjoy my role (it's changed recently and I'm still getting my head around it!) I now deal with local studies, all paper and online reference stock and the use of the public PCs (People's Network). I've got events to work at and I'm expected to train staff on the Enquiry Desk. I'm happy!

In the meantime, I've managed to get my Chartership (when it was still the Library Association), I've achieved numerous certificates, such as ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence), Frontline Reader Development, etc. I've also managed to achieve a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies.

I'm pleased with what I've achieved. I'm also pleased that I've managed to keep my "professional" skills quite varied, although I really enjoy delivering training sessions and also playing around with the intricacies of a Library Management System.

As for the future, well... This is a big question... My partner and I have visas to emigrate to New Zealand and we'll be off as soon as we're sold up. I'm hoping I can get a library post in NZ. I'll be happy to take a post in which ever sector, but where it is will depend on where he can get a job, as he's the major applicant and also likely to earn considerably more than me! From what I've learned from friends in NZ (although may be Kiwi colleagues on here may correct me), that libraries are much more the centre of the community in the country and therefore are used much more than in the UK. I can't wait to learn more about libraries in NZ and also I'm intending to find a beginners course in Maori. I'm one of these people who loves to learn something new and love a new challenge. I can't wait!

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