Masters in Librarianship: opening my mind to a whole new world

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Student Julian Wood tells of his experience of the part-time distance Masters in Librarianship course at the University of Aberystwyth, in Wales

Many people I know who work in libraries ‘fell into’ the profession. Few people I know told their parents when they were seven: ‘Mum, Dad, I want to be a librarian when I grow up’!

I feel very fortunate to have ‘fallen into’ working in an academic library. My first line of work was teaching languages and translation. These are both interesting areas, but I find that librarianship is offering me a lot more than the specific knowledge language study gave me.

What I love about libraries is that they are places for learning about how to learn. And I am realising that life is all about constantly learning new skills and knowledge.

I am currently taking the part-time distance Masters course at the University of Aberystwyth, in Wales. It will take me almost five years to complete, but in many ways this is an advantage. The time-frame is giving me the time to learn gradually and explore many avenues of interest along the way. This will help me decide what area of librarianship I want to go into after the course.

The Masters in L:librarianship has exceeded all my expectations. Here are the top 10 things I feel I am gaining from doing the course:

  • I have had to re-learn how to be a student. This is invaluable, as I have a better idea of how the students experience our service;
  • I am learning a lot about technology (social media, personal management tools such as Evernote, etc.);
  • I am struggling with being a distance learner. Distance learning is very much on the increase, so experience of the frustrations of learning online will be invaluable;
  • Now I understand what management are talking about!. Management (and management-speak) seemed foreign and irrelevant to me before starting the MA. Now I realise there is value and sense in what is done by management and the lingo they use;
  • Meeting other students of librarianship. The study schools at Aberystwyth are a great opportunity to meet other people;
  • It has made my day-to-day job in the library much more interesting. I get to see why we are doing what we do, rather than just doing it;
  • There are many benefits to being a student again. One of the main ones is free CILIP membership;
  • Improving my writing skills, which are vital in any area of work these days. Like most skills, practice makes perfect;
  • Attending events. Recently I went to the London Book Fair , and applied for a bursary to attend the LILAC conference ; and
  • Realising there is an exciting career in librarianship. The course is showing me there is a lot more to librarianship than the public perception of telling people to 'Shhhh' and stamping dusty, old books.

The dissertation stage is still a year off, but I am very interested in personal management tools- i.e. using technologies to help us organise our lives and our information and learning. I am a huge fan of Evernote and have started using Trello. I am excited about how technology continues to develop and often makes our lives easier.

As a child of the '80s, I can't believe how much my life has been transformed by computers. I remember the days of encyclopaedias and books being the main source of information. Now, both of these 'technologies' are becoming peripheral to how I learn and grow.

There are different ways to complete the Masters courses in the UK, the course- full-time, part-time taught and wholly distance/ online. CILIP has a list of accredited courses . There are real challenges to doing a Masters online, but also benefits. Living in Bristol, I had the option to do the course at UWE. Whatever the options, do consider it.

Another route to professional development is CILIP Professional Registration and using the CILIP Professional Knowledge and Skills Base