#uklibchat

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#uklibchat summary –Library Student SOS – March 2015

On 3rd March we were discussing studying on library and information courses and the support you get or would like to receive. There was an interesting mix of past and present students and some great discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of different ways of studying and different courses.

There is a full archive of all the tweets in the chat archive but the following is a summary of the discussions had. This is the last summary in this format. In future summaries will be made in Storify.

Plus we had two great feature articles. One was from two educators “Career support for LIS students” by Stephen Pinfield and Pam McKinney of Sheffield Information school, the other was a perspective from a recent past LIS student.

There was also a library student survey – it is still live, so if you haven’t participated you can still join in or look at the results!


1. Would you say you are enjoying/enjoyed your LIS qualification? If so, in what ways?

Largely people were positive about their qualification.

Aspects enjoyed included : Fellow students – support and camaraderie and varied experiences to be shared, helping give a better understanding of the library environment, varied assignments, practical and theoretical aspects of library work

One person felt it was largely a somewhat tedious means to an end although they enjoyed some aspects, conversely some people did admit that although they were positive about their qualification not all parts of the course were enjoyable.

Another felt that they were overwhelmed on the course with little one on one support.

2. What support do you get/did you have to get you through the course?

Several people mentioned support from their families, both generally and in helping to fund the course itself.

Two people mentioned the John Campbell Trust Award, other financial supports mentioned included a disabled students allowance and a career development loan.

Other people received support from their workplaces – being released from work for studying, helping with flexible hours. Working also helped people finance their qualification and gave access to useful resources and advice from their colleagues.

Several people also mentioned their fellow students were a huge support as well as tutors.

3. What support would you like that you don’t currently have/did not have?

A few people mentioned that they would have liked more financial support or more support from their workplaces. However some people mentioned that they might have been able to get more support from their workplaces if they had been brave enough to ask for it.

There were a few mentions of not very responsive or supportive tutors, specially, in one particulary bad example a distance learning tutor who did not respond to emails.

Others wished they had had more support at the end of the course with job hunting.

4. Do you feel/did you feel your course prepares you for your job? If not, why not?

There was not a consensus on this topic. There was a feeling that LIS courses are generalist and often somewhat theoretical, which is not entirely a preparation for actual work in LIS workplaces.

On the other hand it was also agreed that no course can completely prepare you for your job without being too specialist and specific and that the theory was extremely useful and important as a basis and support for library work, complementing work experience and on the job training.

Others felt that some of the topics were highly practical, cataloguing was mentioned twice in this context.

Courses do vary so perhaps it depends on the course and the job you go on to

5. Did you study in person or by distance learning? Full time or part-time? What are the pros/cons?

Participants were a mixture of full and part time students as well as in person and distance learners.

Distance learning/Part time study

Both Distance Learning and Part Time study were particularly considered to have the advantage of being more affordable as students can continue working to finance the course and also did not have to make a career break to gain the qualification. In addition in both, students who are already working in libraries were able to immediately put into practise skills they were learning as they were learning them.

Distance learning

Distance Learning was also considered to have the advantage of flexibility and self motivation with self set deadlines being mentioned.

However Distance learning was felt to have the major disadvantage of being a lonely choice – there is a lack of regular contact with with fellow students and tutors. Flexibility meant also that time management and loss of motivation were also an issue. And, sometimes work could become rushed (e.g. during an intensive study school).

Suggestions to help with the loneliness included getting support from your work colleagues (if in a LIS workplace), organising meet ups both in person and online, and keeping in touch online

Part time study

For part timers there were also further mentions relating to time management. Working as well as studying often means that you are tired and extremely busy, with limited down time and struggling to struggle to fit studies in around what you are doing and devote longer amounts of time to studies.

Full time/in person study

Full time and in person students conversely mentioned among the advantages the camaraderie with other students, less tiring and more time to take on board what you are learning.

Cons mentioned included depending on location, commuting, less flexibility about modules and what you study and the cost, which priced some out of this option.

6. If you could add something to the LIS curriculum, what would it be and why?

Suggestions included:

  • digital issues – trends, preservation, acquisition, XML
  • Mandatory speakers from different fields of study/speakers from different sectors/roles / more information on different types of library jobs/workplaces
  • budgets, “library finance”, accounting and contract/vendor negotiations
  • a careers module
  • practical cataloguing/classification (or more cataloguing)
  • copyright and data protection
  • Critical theory – especially in infolit
  • a focus on reflective practice
  • teaching information literacy / teaching and presenting
  • inclusion/diversity / outreach
  • “less theory more reality”
  • ethical librarianship
  • Children’s librarianship
  • marketing, negotiating and influencing skills

7. How much library work experience did have before you began your course?

People had had a varied amount of work experience prior to their course from none at all to many years working in libraries.

There was a feeling that work experience could be hard to get, and it may not always be financially affordable or possible (due to childcare, mental health, disability etc) to have prior to starting the course.

Some also felt it wasn’t necessary to have before starting studying but mostly people strongly felt it was difficult to do the course without any prior experience.

8. How did you feel about the selection of optional modules you were given? Did they meet your interests?

Some did not have any optional modules at all.

Most seemed positive about the options available, although in some cases you had to be careful to avoid clashes or were limited in what you could choose by being part time.

There were some comments about the options being limited and that the options were much better in north American LIS courses.

9. What job did/do you hope your course will help you achieve? In libraries / a non-library job? if non library what kind?

  • Rare books/preservation
  • Not for profit sector librarianship
  • Information-related jobs not necessarily in libraries eg. Careers
  • Public librarianship
  • FE/HE/Academic librarianship/subject librarianship
  • some ended up in teaching/PGCE
  • digital librarianship/technical
  • Several people were not sure yet.

10. Was your employer supportive of your decision to go to library school? Did they help in any way? Financially? Giving you time off?

Some did not get any support.

Others were given days off (not leave) for study

Some were allowed to build part of their studies into their work – e.g. working on their dissertation combined into their existing work as it was related

Colleagues were also extremely helpful with advice and support.

Only one person mentioned receiving work sponsorship

11. How did you choose where to study? How would you rate it?

Factors included:

  • Cost (cheapest)
  • Location (farthest from home, convenience – closest to home/commutable)
  • Course content linking to career goals
  • Reputation of institution and quality of staff
  • Flexibility
  • Experience of institution at open days
  • Recommendations of other librarians.
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About gabyklib

Gaby has been a librarian in a public library in the UK since 2004. Her current role is covers working with all library customers through project work, reports, outreach and promotion including website maintenance and social media. Previously she was a children's librarian with particular focus on Teens.

One comment on “#uklibchat summary –Library Student SOS – March 2015

  1. As some one who is about to embark on a masters in information management it’s great to see what people have had to say about their experiences. It’s interesting that in the careers section no one seemed to mention any information or research based roles. I stumbled into my job as an information assistant in a law firm after my graduate traineeship in an academic and it’s very different but I love it!

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This entry was posted on July 24, 2015 by in Discussion Summaries, Uncategorized and tagged , , , .

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