Our third guest post is from Helen Kielt / @HelenKielt Helen is completing her studies and attaining her postgraduate qualification in Library and Information Management as a part-time student at the University of Ulster. As we set out to illustrate via these guest posts that the journey to becoming an information professional is as diverse as the field itself, we hope you enjoy Helen’s description of her own particular path.
The line between library and information student and library and information professional is a blurry one and surmising myself to be one or the other largely depends on where I’m at, or who’s asking. Studying at the University of Ulster encourages both, with emphasis on professional, for those like me who plan to soon gain a library and information qualification.
Re-entering the academic environment as a part-time, postgraduate student was for me an opportunity to expand my learning and find out what the information profession is all about. Library and Information Management at UU (#UU_lim) is a course that develops capacity in the fundamentals of library and information work, whilst also supporting focus in more niche areas of the profession. From the off it unfastens your thinking.
The focus of my study at UU runs uncannily parallel to my role within the Health in Mind team at Libraries NI. My main interests include health information literacy, in particular helping people to access mental health information and ways to improve wellbeing. I am interested in how library resources can be applied and developed from a wellbeing perspective. Learning application is everywhere and both the classroom and the workplace offer their own unique, yet mutually agreeable perspectives. Bringing workplace knowledge into the academic environment is the norm and vice-versa. There are no inconsequential pastimes either; twitter is a melting pot for library culture and reading is information consumption in practice. If you want to be in the knowledge business then everything matters.
Right now I’m more than half way through the Postgraduate Diploma and my current module is called Leadership in Libraries for the Future. In the last number of weeks we’ve been fortunate to welcome guest speakers including Jane Burns (@JMBurns99) and Professor Hazel Hall (@hazelh). These people package advice you would buy and cement guidance such as the importance of relationships and community-building in the information profession. The cross-sector reach of the speakers, students and tutors at UU is a reassuring testament to the variety of skill sets that can be explored through library and information work – I may not have weeded anything other than a flowerbed however I am learning a lot about how people access information. As someone who in the next number of months will broach the subject of research and research methods for the first time it is wonderful to hear from those who are involved and actively encouraging of new professionals. And yes, reading the latest research paper on e-book lending counts.
There’s a breed of professional and dedicated library advocates coming through UU with unique and exciting things to offer the library and information community. This is exciting to be a part of. Fellow students and peers within the profession offer a kind of moral support whereby you can benefit from their experience. Shared learning and discussion is ongoing both in and out of the academic setting. Each conference, workshop or event I attend is an opportunity to talk to people and learn a bit more about how we’re all different under the big umbrella that is ‘library’.