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Michael Jones

Career Path: Assistant Librarian, University of Winchester
Location: Southampton, UK

I've long had an interest in and enjoyed reading, learning and researching but librarianship was never really a career path I had in mind. At a time when I was looking for a new job I came across a library assistant post and thought it sounded interesting. I got the job and over the following years I learned the trade and discovered a natural aptitude for library. When the opportunity arose for me to undertake the MA course at Northumbria and take my career to the next level I was delighted to take it on. The course had an instant impact on my career prospects when, upon completion of the PG Dip element, I was promoted to Assistant Manager at the sixth form college where I have worked throughout my library career.

What are you doing now?MA Library & Information Management _ Michael _Jones

Since graduating from Northumbria I have been developing my role as Assistant Manager at Barton Peveril Sixth Form College in Hampshire as well as joining the Southern committee of the Academic & Research Libraries Group and working to organise an event for academic librarians in the area to share best practice on delivering information literacy sessions.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

The key factor was the ability to study distance learning.  I was not in a position to move to study and there were no universities in reasonable travel distance offering a library course. There were a few distance learning options available to me but I was impressed by the make up of the course at Northumbria and felt the modules offered the training that I required to develop my career.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

Being a distance learning course, all of the content was delivered via the Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard). Even still there was a mix of methods in how the material was delivered from workbooks to tutorials to discussion boards.  From the outset the teaching and support staff made it clear that they were available via email, telephone and even internet video calling and I found everyone to be very responsive and helpful whenever I contacted them.

What impressed you most about our academic staff?

The academic staff were very considerate of the particular needs of students on a distance learning course and made special efforts to be on hand to offer support and advice when it was needed.  They were all clearly well qualified and knowledgeable in the areas that they taught and most have industry experience in addition to their teaching.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/give your career an edge?

In the library industry there is very much a glass ceiling which it is very difficult to break through without a post-graduate qualification. By study this course at Northumbria it has opened up a far wider range of job opportunities for me which I have already been able to take advantage of in gaining my promotion at work.

What was the best thing about your course?

The best thing about the course was the opportunity to learn about and research areas which have a direct impact on the work that I do.  In this regard I especially enjoyed the dissertation element of the course which enabled me to do an in-depth piece of research into an area which I was interested in and which also had an impact on the institution where I work.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

I would say that I picked up skills from nearly all of the modules which I now use in my daily role from web design basics to cataloguing and classification to collection development and management of the library's space and staff.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

I mostly enjoyed the encouragement to learn and expand my knowledge of the profession I had chosen. The support to do so was excellent from not only the academic staff but also the support team and especially the library, whose distance learning service is fantastic and was absolutely crucial to my success on the course. I also enjoyed the opportunity to visit Newcastle for the study days and the welcome that I got at graduation made me feel very special and despite only actually visiting the university twice I still feel part of it.

What advice would you give somebody who is thinking of studying at Northumbria?

Go for it. It's a great place and a great course. On my two brief visits to the university I was very impressed with the physical space of the university and facilities available something which mirrored the excellent virtual spaces I had been party to as a distance learner.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Encouraging, enriching and empowering.

For more information about me see:

  • Twitter: @michaeljjones

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