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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 http://www.londonbookfair.co.uk/ , and applied for a bursary to attend the LILAC conference http://www.lilacconference.com/WP/ ; 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 http://goo.gl/VyWzqb . 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 http://goo.gl/OzuHZa and using the CILIP Professional Knowledge and Skills Base http://goo.gl/MqJo2u

julwood@gmail.com