A network for new and aspiring library professionals
Caitlin: I’d spoken to YiWen on Twitter previously (and we share a background at the University of Reading) and was keen to hear about her experience in a split NHS/HE role. I sent a set of questions beforehand (mainly because I was worried about surprising YiWen with an awkward question!) which helped structure the day.
Learning about YiWen’s role was eye-opening. Along with aspects such as literature searching and teaching, there was so much I hadn’t considered – everything from creating strategic plans and how different NHS trusts work to the intricacies of managing e-resource access for different user groups. Like many others, I came into librarianship looking to help people, and I could really see the visible impact of her role. The level of autotomy was also appealing (if a bit daunting!).
I’ve been wary of applying to jobs because I don’t have ‘enough’ experience, but YiWen reassured me that there’s learning on the job no matter your level. This visit showed me that my current skills in academic librarianship could easily be transferred across to a healthcare setting, which makes me feel hopeful for the future. I’d recommend job shadowing to anyone.
I’m glad to hear that YiWen took something away from the experience as well; I was worried that I’d be taking a day away from her busy job so it’s nice to hear that wasn’t the case.
I can also confirm that if you’re going to fall off a chair and sprain your ankle, a hospital is a good place to do it. Not quite the impression I wanted to leave, but at least it’s lasting!
YiWen: Caitlin got in touch with me via email a couple of weeks ago; we know each other through Twitter, and it was really nice to meet her in person. I scheduled the visit to coincide with a literature searching training session I had arranged with the Rehabilitation team as I thought that would be interesting to observe. Prior to the actual day of shadowing I asked if she had any specific questions/issues that she wanted to cover, and used these to structure the day. We discussed, for example, the structure of NHS libraries in general, the differences between NHS libraries and HE libraries, and did a whizz through some of the more technical/systems aspects of the role.
Unfortunately, poor Caitlin sprained her ankle and we had to cut the day slightly short. Luckily we were in a hospital with lots of capable healthcare professionals around! I felt bad that she had to travel all the way back to Reading with a sore ankle.
Answering Caitlin’s questions made me reflect on my role and library service, which I really appreciated – sometimes I’m so busy firefighting and dealing with the day-to-day that I don’t get a chance to think of the bigger picture. Being in a tiny team of two, I also always appreciate the opportunity to share ideas and learn from other librarians. Caitlin talked to me about the library redevelopment at the University of Reading, and it was nice to hear how my former colleagues there are doing.
Overall, besides the health and safety incident, a great success!