26 Jun 2018

Adventuring into the LIS world...

Figure 1 from Pixabay.

Guest Post by Lisa O'Leary, who recently accepted a place in DBS for the MSc Information & Library Management course.

We wish Lisa all the luck in the world. And welcome her to the world of Library and Information Studies.

"The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle." - Steve Jobs

Embarking on something new is typically a mixture of excitement and nervousness and my first steps into the Library and Information Services (LIS) world were no different. Prior to beginning this journey I had limited knowledge of what working in the LIS world was like or what was involved and had not considered it as a possible career.
By choosing to do a BA degree, majoring in the study of religions and minoring in psychology, (which covered a diverse range of topics each, in their own way, relevant to our world today) broadened my mind and gave me an alternative view of society and the way people interact with each other and the world. I went on to complete an MA in contemporary religions, being the study of the people of religions, which further developed those thought-provoking ideas connecting various different areas and topics including society, race, gender, and class.
During this time I began thinking about my future career – I had come to the decision that an academic career was not for me, but what else could I do?
And with reflection, began the idea of working in a library grew from abstract thought to a tangible idea.

"Though no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." - Carl Bard

My first foray into the LIS world was my work experience in UCC Library which began on October 2017 and finished December 2017.

With fellow Libfocus team member Martin O’Connor as my coordinator I began a part-time ten-week work experience which was a crash course in the workings of UCC library. Throughout my time I was introduced to the library’s system, online presence and databases, the collection and stacking of books and helping students.

I also visited many of the different departments within the library to gain a better understanding of how each worked, these included the Main Desk, Collection Development and Management, Cataloguing, Instructional Design (this department is housed within the library and was interesting and informative in relation to developing and redeveloping library spaces), Electronic Resources, Acquisitions, Repository, and I visited two satellite libraries attached to UCC – Brookfield and CUH. I spent a large portion of my work experience in Special Collections where I was shelving a new collection, and I also spent a few days in Archiving.

There was so much to take in during my time at UCC library, and each new area I was introduced to gave me an appreciation of how all the different elements and departments within a library worked individually and concurrently with each other.

Prior to starting the work experience I was dubious about it being a requirement for my college application but having completed it I found it to be invaluable. As I was coming from a place of no prior understanding it not only allowed me to experience what it would be like working in the area but I developed a whole range of new perspectives and an awareness of the LIS area that I did not have before.

For example, I attended a handful of seminars, including ‘Next Generation Learning Spaces Seminar’ and ‘Beyond the text: aspects of the manuscript and the printed book in Ireland and Europe’ giving me a great foundation and introduction to the different types of cross-disciplinary conferences that exist within the LIS area. I found the ‘Next Generation Learning Spaces Seminar’ particularly interesting not only because of the specific content of the seminar but because of the general topic.

The idea of learning spaces was something new to me. As a student, I had spent many hours in the library reading and writing for all my various assignments during my BA and MA, however, in all that time I had never actually considered the space that I was in. This seminar was eye-opening not only because I was suddenly aware of and considering the space around me but also because my new understanding of how important that space is for learning was growing.

 “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” - Milton Berle

During my work experience, it was recommended that I take part in the Rudai 23 course, which I did and have since received all badges. I feel I should mention that I am not a particularly outgoing person and so completing Rudai 23, particularly setting up a blog and writing posts was quite daunting for me and challenged me to step outside my comfort zone. At times I felt like I was somewhat at a disadvantage (concerning my lack of knowledge and experience) while doing the different Things, however, the tasks were designed in such a way that I was able to overcome this difficulty and complete them.

Rudai 23 occurred at an opportune time for me - just as I was starting my library work experience; beginning them both at the same time (and continuing on with Rudai 23) has been the perfect combination of introduction to and experience in the LIS world. In completing both I have learned a great deal over the past several months. As someone who is an outsider to the LIS profession (not working or studying in the area) they have given me a grounding and foundation from which I can develop - the different communication tools I can use, networking with other professionals and building an online brand, thinking more critically about the information I consume and produce, and how to get more actively involved in the LIS profession. If the work experience was the practical side of my introduction to the LIS world than Rudai 23 was the theory side. Rudai 23 was very instructive and in a way, for me, it perfectly culminates this phase of my adventure into the LIS world as it introduced me to the mechanisms of working within the LIS profession.

 “Take pride in how far you've come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don't forget to enjoy the journey.” - Michael Josephson

So, what does the future hold? Well, the next phase of my adventure involves going to college and next September I will be starting my Masters. It has been quite a journey so far but I think the clearest example of how, through both my work experience and Rudai 23, I have developed and progressed on this journey into the LIS world is the fact that I have written this post. If someone had told me a year ago that I would be writing a professional blog post I would not have believed them. For anyone beginning or considering a career in the LIS world, I cannot recommend completing a work experience programme and Rudai 23 highly enough as they provide the perfect introduction to the area from both a theoretical and practical standpoint. My adventure into the LIS world has been one filled with growth, development, and learning; and I suspect I will have much more of all three in the future!
Figure 2 from Pixabay.


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