A network for new and aspiring library professionals

University of Sheffield’s iSchool – Careers advice.

Recently I, along with Katheryn Oxborrow (Victoria University of Wellington) & Tom Kistell (Sheffield Hallam University) spoke to a group of students at Sheffield’s iSchool about careers an general advice on life after an Information degree. Below is my notes from the 15 minute talk I gave, along with a copy of Kathryn & Tom’s presentations.

Careers advice. All image rights belong to Manchester NLPN.

Careers advice. All image rights belong to Manchester NLPN.

The session ended with a panel discussion, the questions were brilliant and I focused on topics that I think this blog has covered before. So, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to have a look at our top tips on dissertations and our list of useful resources. Equally, we have curated a couple of twitter lists that have proved useful, such as the job list!

Amy Finnegan – Assistant Information Specialist at NICE


  • Graduated in 2012 from MMU with an MA in Library and Information Management
  • No prior employed experience in libraries before the MA – volunteered in a school library.

During my MA year:

  • 2 Volunteering opportunities – NHS & academic
  • Gaining experience was important – student shelving, part-time library assistant (NHS), senior library assistant (MMU), Saturday roles at PCT.
  • Co-founded NLPN
  • 2013 – First professional post at NICE


  • NICE – National Institute for Care and Health Excellence
  • Non-departmental government body that’s accountable to the Department of Health
  • Responsible for providing national guidance and advice on quality health, public health and social care.
  • NICE manages NICE Evidence Search (Previously NHS Evidence search), Athens, BNF & BNFC

Assistant Information Specialist:

  • Guidance information services – identifies and supports the organisation with medical, academic, evidence and statistic information on any given topics.
  • Document supply
  • Literature searching – Varies from finding NICE guidance, UK guidance/reports to clinical trials and systematic literature searching across Medline & Embase and other databases to find articles. Literature searching – central skill. Gained experience through teaching students how to use databases, volunteering and Saturday role.
  • Producing monthly bulletins – assessing the quality and relevance of new articles that might be of interest to the whole organisation.
  • Information Skills training
  • Project work – AD Hoc projects within the team e.g. eLearning or creating filters.

There are skills relevant to NICE that can be transferred to and from other library & information sectors.

Importance of Networking

  • Co-founder of New Library professionals network (NLPN) in 2012
  • Held 6 events, including two collaborative events.
  • Northern based – To hold the next event in Sheffield with CILIP Y&HS
  • Events are free. Great opportunity to network.
  • Ethos is to encourage attendees to take away practical skills and knowledge
  • Our last NLPN (solo) event gave three new professionals the opportunity to present on a topic of their choice.
  • From my perspective – co-founding the event has lead me to develop skills in organisation and event planning.
  • From an attendees perspective – High profile speakers in the information sector to share their knowledge and experience. As I attend these events myself, I come away with practical ideas and new or renewed interest in areas such as Information literacy, interview skills or developing a project in the special libraries sector.
  • Networking doesn’t have to be reserved for the loud and confident. For instance, if conferences intimidate you, start small by talking to one person at a conference. This can help you build up a network of contacts on an individual basis (for instance, I have kept in touch with Michael Cook who gave me my first volunteering opportunity). Also, getting involved with local groups or committees is a good way of introducing yourself to networking. Being part of a committee will allow you to develop skills & take a pro-active approach to CPD without having to create an instant ‘personal brand’.

Top tips

  • Be realistic /patient – I knew I needed non-professional experience before I went for a professional post.
  • Identify areas of interest – being passionate about an area is an advantage. For instance, I’m interested in mobile technology and being able to talk about that with knowledge and insight can impress an interview panel.
  • Identify areas of weakness – Use job descriptions for the roles above the one you currently have or want and identify the areas that you don’t currently match. By using conferences, free events and literature you can get an understanding and if you don’t have an opportunity to develop practical experience you can discuss how transferable skills will aid you in the role.
  • Network (Get involved) – Conferences, social media and people in the workplace. Take opportunities & approach people that are involved in an area that interests you, for instance NLPN offers students & new professionals the opportunity to write blog posts for our blog. I answered a request on a forum looking for volunteers and the manager that answered became a mentor and helped me with practical experience and job interviews. People will help if you show willing. I find networking at conferences intimidating but the chances are the person next to you does too! You don’t have to be an extrovert to network successfully.

If you have any questions or would like to add to our advice, please leave a comment below. We are always happy to hear from you!

Kathryn Oxborrow – Senior Tutor for Information Studies at Victoria University of Wellington

Kathryn has adapted her presentation from the day, to access the presentation follow the link:

Life After Sheffield – Web Version

Tom Kistell – Information Advisor, Sheffield Hallam

Tom’s presentation is available online


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on December 27, 2014 by in Top Tips and tagged , , , .

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,195 other followers

Twitter Updates

%d bloggers like this: