In writing a post on this particular topic I have to admit I might be searching for inspiration as much as providing it! But given the fact that I am coming to the end of a PG Diploma in Library and Information Services Management, this is a topic which is never far from my mind. Whilst I have picked up a wide range of theoretical knowledge and explored the LIS sector in a variety of different contexts, the ultimate goal and reason for undertaking the course was career development. Some of my peers have voiced their concerns over that small but niggling doubt which questions whether skills gained on their respective LIS course will transfer successfully to a professional post. After all, “you’re already doing the job, why do you need a qualification?”
I think this is an understandable worry which probably crosses the frazzled, over-caffeinated mind of the majority of LIS students at least once or twice. However, I think it is crucial to remember your motivations and goals. Whilst the library qualification is necessary in order obtain professional posts (especially in academic libraries), practical experience is of course invaluable. But this does not necessarily mean that your 3000 word PID (Project Initiation Document as opposed to nasty affliction, for those in the know!) or your briefing paper are simply useless routine exercises with no basis or application in reality. Whilst producing these sorts of documents can never guarantee unparalleled expertise (and I would never suggest that it could), we all have to start somewhere, and essentially, the library course gives us the tools to make that start.
At the start of this semester, I received a bag of Lego in the post as teaching materials for a module on Information Organisation. I have to admit, I was initially very worried and wondered how my hard-won course fees were being spent! Nevertheless, as it turned out, this bag of Lego (now Botbrarian 2.0 pictured above) enabled me to utilise inquiry based learning techniques in new and innovative ways which undoubtedly helped me to apply existing knowledge to new problems and challenges in order to better understand information organisation practices in all of its many guises. Certainly creating and building the model was fun and a bit of welcome light relief. However, the opportunity to apply cataloguing and organising principles to my own “Lego collection” forced me to re-think many of my preconceptions and to create new strategies for understanding and presenting my thoughts – arguably a useful enough skill to have when conducting literature searches on obscure medical conditions or tracking down legal papers. While I highly doubt Botbrarian will ever win me too many fans at interview (although fingers crossed!), the skills required in order to adapt and reapply knowledge on this module are surely similar to those required in order to cope with the unpredictable nature of the workload which would most likely come with many professional posts.
Ultimately, it seems that the best way to make use of your LIS qualification is to value it and also to understand how you can adapt it and apply it to your particular working environment. The key to the perfect interview is of course as elusive as ever, but LISNPN’s “How-To Guides” have plenty of tips and hints if, like me, you appreciate a bit of inspiration!
Image by Louise Wasson