Theory into practice…

For those currently pursuing their studies on the road to becoming an information professional, do you question whether all this theory will be of use when you graduate and are working within the field?

As we’ve previously mentioned, we are all recent graduates of UCD SILS, but our experience on putting the theory from our various courses into practice applies to all who pursue this career path. Two of our number are employed in Irish libraries, which is not bad for being recent graduates, and one is in full time employment but not within the Information Professional field. However, within all our jobs, we have utilised our learning from the Masters, putting into practice various aspects that have enhanced our own working environments.

  For myself, within my first proper week of working in a library, I had to assist a Ph.D student with SPSS software and explain quantitative and qualitative research. Since then I’ve assisted numerous students with their research, pointing them in the right direction for their particular area of study. So those of you, currently going through the rigours of observation, notation and then the transcription of your interviews for Research Methods II be assured, it will come in handy!

Two of us, one in the library field and one without, have utilised our attendance on ‘The Teaching Librarian’ course producing information literacy sessions for both academic and business audiences. We both have utilised Articulate software, Dropbox, and Prezi in order to develop and enhance our teaching sessions. I have encountered through my work with both Undergraduates and Post-Graduates, that the Kulthau model on the information process rings true for most. Whether a fresh faced teen or the more mature researcher, we can all encounter problems. As an information professional, I assist them but also provide encouragement and hopefully support in their research quest. I’ve also encountered students who suffer library anxiety and as someone who felt that self-same feeling when I first became an Undergrad, I understand only too well how that can impact on one’s studies. So all our learning from Claire McGuinness’s excellent class has already in such a short space of time, been put to good use and into practice. Luckily for us in Dublin, Claire has taught at both UCD and DBS.

So what about the core ‘librarian’ skills of cataloguing I hear you cry as you struggle with your assignments for AACR2 and MARC21 et al? Christoph at UCD has taught us all very well, and I have to admit for myself I have become a committed cataloguing geek.

I completed a voluntary project during the summer whilst completing my MLIS and working full time, with Christoph’s advice ringing in my head.  I poured over the AACR2 manual, figuring out how I should go about cataloguing particularly tricky items as ‘every day is a school day’ in cataloguing. Subsequently, I have gone on to assist in another voluntary project, but this time utilising Dublin Core. Whilst loving AACR2 – Dublin Core is ideal for this particular project. Most ‘librarian’ roles incorporate some aspect of cataloguing and the joy of Dewey so rest assured you will be utilising it. If you manage to catch any of Jane Burns presentations, she will also illuminate the importance of understanding taxonomies, cataloguing and classification and it’s utilisation outside the library realm.

Of course, the one area that all modern Information Professionals should be aware of is the field of web and IT skills. Whilst we don’t need to be programmers, we do require the skills to understand what is required to provide information effectively. Luckily, I attended Web Publishing and Information Architecture and I have incorporated the learning from them both into all aspects of my paid and voluntary work. Understanding and being able to code in HTML has been of huge benefit, as is being familiar with aspects of web design and information architecture. Completing usability testing and creating pre and post test questionnaires have already been a huge benefit to me in my working sphere. Completing projects that allow you to create and learn in a safe environment, before you test out your ideas in the world of work, has been an invaluable exercise.

So take heart, enjoy what remains of this semester and work hard, the rewards both personally and professionally are very high. The sense of achievement when you incorporate some of your learning into your working life is immense, or at least it is for us. Each one of us has found that the MLIS has provided us with many skills as well as the interest and knowledge to seek out and improve on what is becoming a solid skill base for our future careers.

4 thoughts on “Theory into practice…

  1. Really interesting post guys. I think that because of the practical nature of the job in many cases, it is hard to see the point of ‘theory’ sometimes, even though subconsciously it probably informs a large part of what we actually do. In this context, evidence based librarianship is a key idea within the profession and perhaps the most important channel we can utilise to improve and develop our services in the long term.

  2. Excellent post guys. In my role at present, I am dealing mostly with social media but I also get called upon to give a perspective on technology issues as they impact on different users in an educational and organisational context. In this respect, Information Architecture would have been very useful and I regret not taking it, but as Michelle points out, the theories underpin a lot of what I do.

  3. Thanks for the article, great to know that what we are learning is relevant and useful especially when we’re all a little stressed out about the amount of work we have at the moment. Looking forward to hearing about the event after Norman’s class. 🙂

  4. Just echoing what the other commenters have said. It’s great to know that what we’re learning if of real practical use. It’s a steep learning curve but a fun one!

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