Find out how Fiona uses the skills and experience she gained on her Masters course in her job as an academic librarian
How did you get your job as an academic librarian?
After successfully completing an MSc in Information and Library Studies at the University of Strathclyde, my first library job was an assistant position in acquisitions at the University of Stirling. From there, I was seconded to the role of e-resources librarian. I then successfully applied for the permanent post of e-resources librarian at the University of Strathclyde and have now been in this role for approximately nine months.
What's a typical working day like for an academic librarian?
My role covers access, discovery, trialling and evaluation of the library's electronic resources. A day might, for example, involve checking various email discussion threads, following up any issues reported relating to e-resources we have, working on our recently upgraded LibGuides database records, following up with suppliers on various ongoing authentication and linking enquiries and attending workshops.
When I'm at my desk, I constantly monitor my mailbox for new enquiries, prioritising any access problems.
What do you enjoy most about being an academic librarian?
I enjoy working with people across different teams and understanding the overall service of being a librarian. I also work close to home, which means I have a great work/life balance.
What are the challenges?
The post of e-resources librarian was a newly created position at Strathclyde and overall I've had very little prior guidance to follow. It has been a challenge creating my own workflows, but I've enjoyed having the freedom to put my own stamp on the role.
Learning how to use a different set of library systems and resources at a new institution has also been fairly challenging.
How relevant is your Masters degree?
My Masters course covered many areas which are relevant to my role, including copyright, cataloguing and using Open Access to name a few. The research skills and experience I gained through completing a Masters degree are also highly relevant for working in an academic library, and for understanding the experiences of our users.
What are your top tips for choosing a Masters?
The important things for me when choosing my Masters were that I was interested in the course content, I understood the structure and time commitments of the course, and I knew that the course was accredited by the relevant professional bodies, in my case the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).
My Masters degree at Strathclyde also included a placement component, which was extremely valuable.
What's your advice for someone wanting to become an academic librarian?
- Keep an eye on the skills that are currently relevant to the jobs you're interested in. CILIP and job adverts are good sources for this information.
- Any experience in usage statistics, budgets, licensing and negotiating is useful for working with electronic resources.
- Unsuccessful applications and interviews when job-hunting are disheartening, but treat them as rehearsals for your next application.
Find out more
- Find out more about becoming an academic librarian.