When I was nearing the end of my undergraduate degree in English Literature, I visited the careers service to consider my options for the future. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do next and after three years of student life could not conceive of working in a ‘proper job’. Looking back, my librarian tendencies were always there, and it was during a visit to my university library (the brilliant Lancaster University) that I made an aside to my friend, “Ooh, I’d love to work in a library”. All of a sudden it seemed that there was no other conceivable career for me.
I went on to study a Masters in Information and Library Management at John Moores University and found myself as a library assistant in my local health library. In hindsight, I wish I had only studied as far as diploma level, then returned to do my Masters at a later date. I was naive to the world of work and had limited experience; I feel that doing my Masters later on in my career would have been more valuable.
However, I loved my job and found myself promoted to my first professional post after only 10 months in the job. Two years later I was promoted again to Clinical Librarian and this is where I discovered my real passion for health information and librarianship. I am passionate about the value that libraries can bring to the NHS, and feel that as librarians we are an untapped resource. Libraries can improve patient care, contribute to cost savings and reduce knowledge-related risk. Clinical and management decisions in healthcare should be based on the best quality evidence available, and librarians are perfectly positioned to provide this evidence to clinicians. There should be a librarian attached to every board of directors in every NHS trust in the country.
It’s true to say I couldn’t do my job without my degree qualification. However, nothing compares to the value of the experience that I’ve gained while working alongside more experienced and knowledgable colleagues. After reading Sheila Webber’s CPD23 blog post, I look back and cringe at my own unconscious incompetence early on in my career. And I’m not sure I’ll ever get to be unconscious competence because I still feel like I’ve got so much to learn. In response to Sheila’s post, I’d like to encourage librarians who are later in their career to share as much as they can with less experienced colleagues. When you leave the profession you’ll be taking a wealth of experience and wisdom with you.
I embarked on Chartership over two years ago and I’m just about ready to submit (nearly there!). I’d love to undertake a formal teaching qualification at some point too, as I feel this is one of my weaknesses. But let me get Chartership done and dusted first!