A network for new and aspiring library professionals
Beth: Despite having previous experience in public libraries and studying for an MA in librarianship, more often than not, I feel like a complete novice within the profession. As such I am always eager to embrace any opportunity I can to gain further experience. When I saw that the NLPN was offering the chance to shadow other library professionals I was thrilled as I felt it was a fantastic opportunity to gain insight into a different sector.
I decided to contact Emily Wheeler, a Learning Advisor at the University of Leeds, and after a few emails arranged to shadow her for a morning. After a period of getting myself terribly, terribly lost moments after leaving the station, I was greeted by Emily at the Edward Boyle library. Our morning consisted of touring the libraries at the university and Emily kindly answering each and every one of my questions. I was interested to hear about how she had come to work at Leeds in a role which seems so different from the, perhaps, more conventional stock focused roles I’m used to. She talked me through one of her lesson plans designed for students studying for a degree in food science and explained that, no, she wasn’t an expert on food science! In fact, in her lessons she mostly referred to what she knew about literature searching and referencing. (I got to see one of the rooms Emily teaches in later on and she assured me that it is far less daunting than it seems. It is a part of her job she really enjoys).
Although I was happy learning about Emily’s job and exploring her workplace I mentioned to her that I often felt intimidated when looking at job adverts myself. (A feeling I know is shared by many others in the same position as me). She decided to talk me through a copy of her own job description and personal specification. During this she helped me identify some of the skills I have as well as giving me some useful tips about things I could include in my own applications. This made me leave the day feeling far more positive and I cannot thank Emily enough for being so welcoming and encouraging.
I would recommend job shadowing to anyone entering the profession as a chance to gain real perspective into the practical aspects of different job roles. Thank you NLPN for providing this opportunity and thank you Emily for letting me follow you around for a morning!
It was great to have Beth in for the morning with me. For a variety of reasons I wasn’t able to offer a full day of shadowing, and due to the nature of my role (lots of teaching in the autumn/winter, lots of project work in the spring/summer) I wasn’t able to offer Beth the chance to observe any teaching. Instead, we talked about what my job involves, my career path, and what skills and experience people would need if they wanted to work in a role like mine. I also shared some resources with Beth to show her the range of different topics we teach in my team. For me, it was a great chance to meet a current LIS student and find out what they were interested in, as well as sharing what I do and why I like doing it. I hope that although Beth’s visit was brief it was useful and interesting for her! I’d love to host more students in future, but would probably try and arrange visits on more exciting days when I’m actually doing some teaching (sorry Beth!).
If you have been inspired by Beth’s experience of shadowing or if you would like to share your pearls of wisdom with someone, take a look at our job shadowing page.