After a twitter exchange about @millieshoes about her blog post on Library qualifications, I agreed I would try to blog about my own experience, and why I found the MSc at the University of Strathclyde invaluable for working as an Information Professional. Is there really such a variation across the UK? I think it is quite right that there should be practical elements. But I would not want to get rid of the theoretical content. How can you learn how to do the job well without understanding the theories behind *why* we do *what* we do?
I did this course back in 2006/7, so please don’t take for granted these subjects are still part of the course as it is now – ask these folks instead for that!
Also, I have not looked back at my notes from the course at all so this is a very subjective ‘what I recall and remember being particularly useful in the workplace’ account of my studies! Some were whole modules, others are tasks from one module or other that sticks out in my memory particularly.
Digital Archiving and Preservation – the cohort split into groups and each got a set of primary archive resources to digitally archive and catalogue. We also created a webpage, including content about the archived items from our research. Application of skills: technologies, metadata conventions, research (and of course referencing properly!)
Bibliographies – everyone got a different topic and had to produce a bibliography of some set number of items, as far as I remember anyway, along with a description of the search process. This was early on in the course, so introduced search techniques, resources like databases and catalogues, and then referencing.
Web design – definitely did some HTML, databases, excel, there was probably more – Pretty essential for all LIS professionals to have some basic knowledge about these.
Ethics – I do love a bit of library ethics, as you may know. Found this useful every day at work. I find it scary that there are practitioners out there without some understanding of the ethics of librarianship.
Classification and cataloguing – there was an exam for this section which is a straightforward and fair way to test how good you are at classifying! The only thing was that we learned how to use Web Dewey, and in the ‘real world’ I had to use the book versions and that switch took some getting used to!
Placement – there was so much to learn about on placement – I went to a University Library, and got to see a little bit of serials, subject services, special collections, the institutional repository, even stores, and to see RFID in action (still to this day my only experience of this technology!). There was a European Documentation Centre too and a day at the archives. A busy month!
Other skills would be things like giving presentations, working in a team. And there were a million other things too which I will have omitted! All-in-all, I would say the course I did was pretty good.
I don’t know if a) I had a particularly good experience b) I was just in the right frame of mind for that course at that time c) I really found my niche with this subject (which is why I’m now doing a PhD!). Hopefully this post might be useful anyway to give a flavour of what you *can* get out of a LIS qualification.