An interview with Fiona Lacey a current Library and Information Masters student at UCD – who attended #npdixmas14 – we approached Fiona to share some thoughts with us on the event itself and her own journey into the profession. Many thanks to Manchester New Library Professionals Network for allowing us to utilise their interview format.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you first become involved in the library and information profession?
I graduated from Maynooth University in 2010 with a BA in English and Greek & Roman Civilisation. I always had an interest in libraries and considered applying to the MLIS at the time, but having been a student for most of my life I really wanted to get a job! I wasn’t sure which direction to go in so I started applying for jobs in the publishing industry. I eventually got an internship and from there started working full time in a publishing house. I continued working in publishing for a few years and ended up working in London. I really enjoyed my time working in the publishing industry and I learned a lot of transferable skills but eventually I decided to move back to Ireland and apply to the MLIS at UCD.
2. Can you tell us about your route onto your course?
A friend of mine had already completed the MLIS at UCD so I knew about the course and I felt confident that it was the right program for me. After applying I started the required six-week work experience block in a small academic library. Ideally I would have preferred to gain more experience before starting the course but I’ve been lucky enough to get some part time library work this year, which I’ve found really beneficial.
3. What advice would you give to new library and information professionals who are currently looking to begin studying in the library and information sector?
I think the best thing to do is to get as much work/volunteer experience in a library as you can. Twitter is a great way to find out about job opportunities and networking events. Also a lot of librarians keep blogs, which are a great way to find out what is happening in the library and information sector. Research a number of different courses to find the one that is right for you. I would also recommend MOOCs as a means of getting a feel for the field and connecting with Information professionals around the world. The Toronto iSchool are currently running a course through edX on Library Advocacy that is really interesting.
4. In 2014 you attended the New Professionals Day Ireland: SHINE and our Christmas event; what do you see as being the benefits of being in a network and what did you gain from the events?
It can be hard to break into a new industry so it’s great to connect with other working librarians and to hear about their route to their current job. It is very encouraging to meet recent graduates who are employed. I find it particularly interesting to hear from people working in ‘non-traditional’ library roles. It’s great to see how the skills gained from the MLIS can be applied to a variety of jobs.
5. What would you like to see from New Professionals Day Ireland in the future?
I would definitely like to attend more networking and information events. I have found the events I attended very interesting and beneficial. I think it would be helpful if there were some kind of mentorship program. The MLIS seems to attract students from a variety of backgrounds with varying skills and experience. So it might be helpful if students could be paired with professionals working in the library and information sector for guidance and advice, particularly about career development and networking.