Thank god for half-term!

library wall

Wow! Two months into the new job, and my distance learning ‘Library and Information Services Management’ course at Sheffield, I just wanted to try and sum up my experiences so far! It’s been a bit mental working full-time and doing the MA and I don’t know if it’s just my increasing age, or bad time management, but instead of being up doing wild things until 4am at the weekend, I now find myself working on my assignments until 4am. But I wouldn’t change it for the world! It feels like everything that had originally inspired me to want to work in libraries and do the course before was just the tip of the iceberg, there is so much to discover and learn and I could never have imagined quite how fascinating and important it all is, and I am so relieved to say after taking a leap into the unknown that nothing has ever felt quite so right!

I promise I am not being bribed to say this, but the course has been absolutely incredible! I couldn’t praise it enough! I had so many concerns with being a distance learner, but ironically I have felt more engaged with this course than with others I have studied in person. The modules we are currently studying are Information Literacy, and Libraries, Information and Society, and learning about the political and social aspects of libraries, and various teaching and learning theories and the role of librarians in both society and education has blown my mind. I had expected the course to involve lots of solitary reading and essay writing, but we are only writing one essay assignment in the first semester, and the other three assignments are really interactive and involve working in groups. One is to create a presentation on an ethical issue as a group, another is to work together with students on the in-person course to create a teaching resource to meet their information need, and the other to create an annotated bibliography on a subject of our choice. There are weekly online lectures and seminars, and there is something quite magic about being able to go to college in your pjamas or whilst cooking your spaghetti bolognaise!

Unfortunately due to work, I haven’t been able to make the synchronous live sessions, but they are all recorded and uploaded pretty instantly so you can catch up, and each week there are interactive tasks which involve contributing to google docs, or having a discussion on google+ or a forum in MOLE (the college online learning environment), so everyone gets really involved and I really do feel like I am getting to know the other students! We have been having Skype meetings to plan our assignments together, and there has been discussion of planning some get togethers in person! I feel very privileged to be amongst such an array of professionals, as many of the other students are working in some pretty fantastic jobs in academic, public and national libraries and have so much to contribute which am also learning from! There is a real impetus and energy which the tutors keep alive, which has kept me feeling really motivated and engaged and I have been really getting used to learning how to manage my time and plan in order to keep up with everything! Our tutor emailed us yesterday to say that if we have survived the first half term then he is confident we can survive the course, so this half-term feels like a pretty great landmark! Now if I can just get this assignment done, I might be able to do something wild to celebrate!

The picture above is of the wall in the library at work! I apologise for this long post, but I just wanted to very quickly say how great working with teenagers is! I had been terrified I would be confronted with attitude and grunts, but it has been an absolute privilege and just so much fun. The only negative point, is that it’s forced me to re-evaluate the image I had of myself still being a teenager. I have to write out late cards for the students and write down their excuses, and when they tell me ‘they were having a blem sesh’ I am forced to realise decades have passed and I am suddenly speaking another language! Both the staff and students have been fantastic, and it is so refreshing to be in a job where you are there support and assist people, to listen and to interact and do what you can to help them. Finding the right book to help someone with their assignment gives me a special ping inside that I can’t imagine ever wearing off, and for some of the students it’s their first time in a library, and for some of the adult learners it is their first time using google or scanning a document! The coursework has been feeding into my job too, and I have been able to use the search techniques I have been learning on the course to inform students about online searching, and the new library management system is being installed at work next week so I am sure my fellow students will have some great advice to share with me too! So it’s a big thumbs up from me!

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