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Hilary

Any librarians?

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Thanks for your best wishes, all. It seems like everyone I tell believes it is the right thing for me to do, probably because they are all sick and tired of hearing me grumble about how much I hate my job!

 

Ironically, I'm really only able to afford to do something like this thanks to some of the perks offered by my current employers e.g. selling Save As You Earn shares that have trebled in value while I've owned them. I'm also looking into a Career Development Loan, which is a government backed bank loan on which I wouldn't pay interest during my studies.

 

In some ways, it feels like an insane thing to do. I'm not going to be earning for a year and after that I'm probably going to be paid less as a qualified librarian than I am for what I do now. Even so, I think I have to do something like this for the sake of my mental health if nothing else. At times my current situation has left me feeling like I'm teetering on the brink of depression.

 

At times I do wonder if I'm just running away. However, I have considered this as a career before. I interviewed for jobs after I left university for the first time working in Warner Brothers' UK archives and for the MCPS/PRS, the body responsible for collecting royalties on copyrighted music, whose work by its nature means they also maintain a huge archive. Ultimately, if I didn't try and make a go of this it would be one of those "what if..." questions for me.

 

Being the cautious sort of soul I am, I'm trying not to get overexcited about things until the university confirms I have a place. I also intend to take the time I'm studying as a career break rather than resigning completely so if all else fails I can always return to the loving embrace :rolleyes: of Tesco. I hope it doesn't come to that, though. It is certainly one motivation to study hard!

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Only just come across this thread and want to echo everyone elses' good luck wishes and their understanding of the situation you're in. Good luck from chuntzy the Sainsbury shopper :)

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It's probably famous, and everyone but me will know who first said it, but some years ago I heard 'someone' say that everyone has regrets in life, and it's better to regret something you did than regret the things you did not do.

 

But let's hope there are no regrets at all, eh?

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I'm not going to be earning for a year ..

You could always get a Saturday job at Waterstones ;)

 

I think you're very brave. I know I certainly wouldn't have the guts to jump ship now, but I guess I'm lucky because although sometimes I'm tearing my hair out with my job and want to curl up and hide away, but for the most part I'd say I enjoy it. There was a time when I always hated it, but then decided to take a different view. I think perhaps sometimes jobs are like marriages - grass always greener on the other side.:D

 

Obviously I only know you through the filter of the internet - but I think library work sounds right up your street and will offer an opportunity to do something you can be truly passionate about. Good luck!!

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Good luck, Gram - I am very impressed!

 

For what it's worth, one of my friends left her job in marketing and retrained as a speech therapist. It took her two years, on the breadline, but she got a job and she's never been happier. Hope it works out similarly well for you.

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Good luck from me too Grammath. Is it UCL you're applying to? My top tip would be to focus on work outside of public libraries - special libraries, corporate libraries and law libraries are where the future lies. Knowledge Management is more transferable than Library Science!

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Good luck from me too Grammath. Is it UCL you're applying to? My top tip would be to focus on work outside of public libraries - special libraries, corporate libraries and law libraries are where the future lies. Knowledge Management is more transferable than Library Science!
No, I'm applying to City. UCL were very insistent they would only take people with previous experience.

 

At the open evening I went to, the City people were keen to stress that there were many career paths other than going into the public sector and that their degree didn't equip you just to work in a library. Museum curating and creating and managing web content were also mentioned. They're very focussed too on studying the impact of technological advances like e-books and social networking, for example, so the course content is skewed towards knowledge management.

 

The course shares quite a lot of content with their Information Science degree so it does have that bias. Hopefully this will all stand me in good stead once I reach the job market.

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Hey Grammath, I've only just come across this, I have to hope the job situation is better down South than up here in Scotland otherwise I'd be saying it is a brave move trying to get into this sector at the moment! On the other hand I live in hope that while libraries are being hacked to bits at the moment by cuts, these things come and go and over the span of a career there will be lean times and times of plenty.

Also, its amazing that I was asking questions on this thread in 2005 and now I'm a librarian! and chartered! and I do love my job. Its quite hard to hold on to that sometimes in the face of all the doom and gloom but when it gets down to the actual, actual job, I love it.

Has your course started yet? How is it going? Any scary bits yet? You're welcome to PM me if you like, I do check regularly although i don't post as much as I used to.

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It's ironic you should revive this thread now, Cathy, as later this morning I'm attending a lecture by a rep from one of the leading recruitment agencies from the library and information sector who should give us a "realistic" assessment of what it is like in this part of the world. With the British Library having recently announced it will be cutting 200 staff as a result of its grant cut after the Comprehensive Spending Review I have an idea what the job market must be like at the moment.

 

Actually, one of the things that the course leaders make a conscientious effort to do is to make it clear to students that the qualification won't necessarily lead them to work in libraries as most of us traditionally conceive of them. We've also had visiting lecturers from the National Archives and most interestingly GCHQ; after all, spies deal in information too. It has also been highlighted that search engines are interested in employing LIS graduates too.

 

Some of the course modules are quite technical in nature, emphasising this is an Information Science degree as much as a Librarianship one. Students are encouraged to think of themselves as potential "knowledge workers" or "information architects" (basically people who structure and organise websites) rather than people stamping books and saying "shh!", the idea being we'll think more broadly about the job opportunties available to us.

 

It does mean I might return to corporate hell once I graduate, but at least it will be a different corporate hell.

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It does mean I might return to corporate hell once I graduate, but at least it will be a different corporate hell.

 

I found this entire thread really interesting. Congrats on your choice of studies. I studied Info Management MSc for a term or two 3 years ago - dropped out as a new job wanted me to do some professional IT qualifications instead which I did. It was a very interesting program though and quite technical, which was fine, and just the skills I learned in just that first term made me so much more of a competent researcher in other areas.

 

There are lots of research-type roles available in the corporate world that are nicely paid too - even in the tougher economic climates. I think the public sector is finding it v. hard at the moment though - it was even when things were good out there with libraries sadly taking quite a battering :-( I used to read a great library blog regularly about an ex-Waterstones MD I believe it was and his attempt to revive the libraries. Can't seem to find it now to link, but if I do will pop it up here - it was good reading indeed.

 

We had it pushed across to us also regarding the different careers available. I think the traditional librarian role is typically one that so many people seek, something romantic about those book shelves laden with dusty tomes, and the idea of a quiet library when in reality the truth is so different. You really do need to be a people person and in many cases you're on your feet all day and can be very busy. I think it's like book shops and the folks I've known who have sought them out as being quiet sanctuaries of knowledge, only to find, in many situations, the the idyll and the reality couldn't be further juxtaposed.

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I hope it's O.K. for a former humble library assistant to join the chat?

It was too-many years ago of course - and just as well, for I needed that late-teen/early twenties energy to cope! The building I worked in was large, open plan, and on a busy day I must have covered miles at a brisk trot! Certainly no problems with weight issues, though, and I enjoyed myself. :D

 

I do agree - the nature of the job has changed a lot, and I must say I miss the more "human" element which we were trained to regard as one of the most important services we provided. As a shy teenager, I was horrified when told that I had to chat to the readers, but before long ... I could pass the time of day with an utter stranger without a problem, and that particular life-skill has never left me.

 

My own local Library has just recently become self-service - and I hate it! A reduced staff are still around, of course, but the readers issue and return their own books etc., and even fines or request fees can be paid automatically.

Less jobs for librarians and library assistants, and less human-contact for readers, many of whom value that bit of chat and a friendly smile, during their regular visits.

 

Human beings can't be replaced with machines, folks, so stand firm and let the bosses know just how valuable a commodity you all are, or will be.

 

You're all providing a valuable service. Thanks - from one of the masses. :)

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You'll find that the majority of staff that work on counters in libraries these days are not librarians and a knowledge of books is not a requirement of the library assistant role. They are very customer friendly and enthusiastic, however, and all enjoy working with books and promoting reading. Sadly there are very few qualified librarians left in public libraries. I work as a librarian in prob the county with the most amount of libraries (100 at the moment) and there are probably around 25 librarians.

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You'll find that the majority of staff that work on counters in libraries these days are not librarians and a knowledge of books is not a requirement of the library assistant role.
that explains a lot
They are very customer friendly and enthusiastic, however, and all enjoy working with books and promoting reading.
not all the counter staff in our local library fit this description.
I work as a librarian in prob the county with the most amount of libraries (100 at the moment) and there are probably around 25 librarians.
IMHO the best library I used in Kent was the Beaney Institute in Canterbury. Wonderful building and lovely staff (well 30 years ago anyway).

 

The demise of the qualified Librarian in our libraries is a tragedy. I know it's necessary to encompass all modern technology in our libraries these days, but for me it has diminished the pure magic of a local library.

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The Beaney's where I'm based Barblue! Except we are closed at the moment having an extension built... have worked there on and off for 22 years

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The Beaney's where I'm based Barblue! Except we are closed at the moment having an extension built... have worked there on and off for 22 years
Lucky you. Is that a second extension because they were talking about extending the building backward into the car park at the rear when I lived there in the 1970s?

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Wow - pretty substantial additions then. Thanks so much for the link Mouse. I must chat with friends who still live in Canterbury and get their take on all this now.

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