Case study

Assistant subject librarian — Amy Clancy

Amy's knowledge of library and information management gained from her postgraduate diploma and her practical library experience helped her get a job as an assistant subject librarian in higher education

What degree did you study?

I graduated with a BA English Language for Education from The University of Manchester in 2018. I later went on to take the PGDip Library and Information Management at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), graduating in 2021.

How did you get your job?

After my undergraduate degree I got my first library job as a casual assistant at a public library. I then took a job as a graduate trainee split across two NHS libraries. While in this post I completed my PGDip Library and Information Management at MMU, and as I was finishing my qualification I moved on to my current position as an assistant subject librarian.

I managed to get this job by demonstrating how the experience I had gained during my graduate traineeship, and the theoretical knowledge from my degree, could be applied to the skills needed for the role. I was fortunate that a position opened in the Health and Social Care team, as I was able to apply my experience working in the NHS. I was also confident presenting, which is key for this role.

What's a typical working day like?

Our team manages all the resources and user education for the Faculty of Health and Social Care. Tasks can include teaching, purchasing new resources, and working with lecturers to make content accessible while complying with copyright. There are also opportunities to get involved in wider initiatives, which can be anything from wellbeing to diversity.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working with students, in one-to-one sessions or teaching large groups. I also enjoy the variety of the role, and the opportunities to try new things and develop new skills.

What are the challenges?

The biggest challenge is managing my time and juggling multiple ongoing tasks. I’ve found ways to stay organised, but I definitely found it overwhelming at first.

In what way is your degree relevant?

The theoretical knowledge I gained from my postgraduate degree at MMU is so helpful. Understanding the theory behind things like copyright, information literacy and information management has made it much easier to learn the practical skills needed for this role.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I started my role in unusual circumstances, a few weeks after the first UK lockdown in 2020. Many things I initially learned were not the usual ways of working, and now as things slowly return to normal it sometimes feels like I'm learning the role all over again. I'm looking forward to seeing how things change as we move forward, and still feel I have a lot to gain.

In the long term, I would like to have a job with a focus on teaching and user education.

What are your top tips for choosing a Masters?

  • Think about the jobs you are interested in and make sure the programme will prepare you.
  • Choose a Masters that will give you practical skills as well as theoretical.
  • Look for a course that offers a placement opportunity to gain experience.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

  • Take every opportunity to get experience, such as volunteering or joining a committee.
  • Look at job descriptions and person specifications online, and try to get experience in the areas that employers are looking for.
  • Don't worry. Getting your first professional post can take time but the right job will come along.

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