The Group’s ongoing outreach activity continued earlier this month in Glasgow. Our Secretary, Faye Cooke, returned to her alma mater to address postgraduates on the Information and Library Studies programme.
On a trip down memory lane (ie Rottenrow), I noted changes on campus – new shops, a large mural and Glasgow College looming above. Then again, it’s been six years since I took my last exam at the University of Strathclyde and entered the world of special libraries, the subject on which I had been invited to talk.
I made my way to the 14th floor of Livingstone Tower where all was reassuringly familiar, including the seminar room. No doubt testament to David McMenemy, Lecturer and Course Director, it was a great turnout for an afternoon session and I was relieved to be greeted by a friendly audience.
As they were to discover, I used to work in careers information and if I learnt one thing, it’s that students want practical tips and insider info. I therefore followed a rough plan:
- Special libraries – definition and sectors
- Special librarians
- Law libraries – workforce stats
- Law librarian role, eg budget and collection management, current awareness, etc.
- My CV
- Pros and cons of role/sector
- Gaining experience
- Professional bodies, incl. SLLG student project
- Finding jobs and looking ahead
I tried to be as honest as possible, admitting that when I began my postgraduate diploma, my understanding of potential sectors was pretty narrow. The opportunity to do a placement at a law firm, however, completely opened my eyes to special and, indeed, law libraries.
The main takeaway was the importance of professional engagement. Alongside hard work and a bit of serendipity, a good support network has been key to my career development thus far. As librarians in the Scottish legal sector, we often work either alone, remotely or small teams. Membership of professional bodies has helped me to gain knowledge and skills, and to feel part of something bigger.
One last tip for our future librarians: save all those thank you emails. Positive feedback is evidence of the impact our roles and services have. It’s also a reminder to me that I get to help someone and be a know-it-all at the same time. That’s why I go to work with a smile on my face (most days)!
The committee would like to thank the Computer & Information Sciences department at the University of Strathclyde and David McMenemy for allowing the SLLG to present a talk to their students.