Our second guest post is from Jennie Brosnan / @Jencasbros who has written us a superb piece on her own journey on the road to qualification with Glasgow University.
I am currently studying for my MSc in Information Management at the University of Glasgow, preparing for the dreaded dissertation. It’s quite a random place for an early 20-something Kerry girl to end up, especially when there are courses similar to this closer to home. I first came to Scotland after finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in History and Religion at the University College Cork and accepted a place in the University of Edinburgh’s MSc in Gender History, a topic that has been close to my academic heart for as long as I can remember. I had dallied with the thought of becoming an archivist/librarian/curator before applying to Edinburgh but the call of the excitement of a new country was too great.
The problem with MSc courses is that they are too short. A year might seem a long time but in reality there is no time to let the dust settle and consider the next move, either in academia or the big bad world. Half way through my MSc in Edinburgh last year I realised that I had no next step, no real plan for the future other than getting the next assignment done. It was suggested to me by an old friend that I should think about becoming an archivist/librarian/curator because apparently I belong in a large room of books instilling fear into those who dare break the solemn silence of the library and speak. Perhaps this is so, but something about preserving old books and documents and keeping them accessible for future generations of researchers struck a chord with me.
So I set out to find a course that would help me do this and I found several courses around the UK that would fit the bill. Since I was living in Edinburgh, I wanted to go somewhere that wouldn’t involve packing up my entire life again and moving hundreds of miles away from the city that I had grown to love. Both Glasgow and Dundee fitted the bill for this but as Glasgow had only a year course and was closer I decided to apply there. Not a very romantic way of choosing where to find my vocation, but it was the right decision at the time, and still is.
Initially I wasn’t sure what to expect because I had just finished an academic masters where this one would be more practical. I was worried that people would have more experience that I, which was true (and I was slightly jealous) but my class were a lovely and friendly group of people. I think because none of us knew what to expect, we banded together and helped each other out. We were all quite apprehensive about the cataloguing placement required during the middle of the first semester but I was lucky enough to be with Glasgow Women’s Library Archive where I was already volunteering. One of the archivists there had graduated from the course a few years previous and was, and still is a font of knowledge about the Humanities Advanced Technology & Information Institute (HATII) where the course is based in the University.
At the moment I am preparing my final report for the course on a 2D digitisation of some carpet designs of the Stoddart-Templeton Collection that can be found in the University of Glasgow Archives. The practical elements of the course have been fantastic in giving the class an insight into the different aspects of the job of an Information professional. Of course, what I’m looking forward to the most is the dissertation. I see it as my opportunity to bring together what I have learned in this course and apply it to my previous research for my last masters in Gender History. The topic is “Sex in the Archives: finding aids, appraisal guidelines and physical objects”. It is a working title at the moment, but I really can’t wait to get stuck in and see what I discover!
The MSc at the University of Glasgow has been an incredible experience and has brought me into contact with so many different people. I would recommend it to anyone in Scotland looking to become an Information professional, not necessarily an Archivist as it covers all aspects of the career. I can’t wait to begin the next step of my journey after applying for a PhD Studentship at the University of Leicester. Fingers crossed that I get it but if not I know that I am more than prepared for the big bad world of Information Management!