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Department of Information Studies


Library Student Day in the Life – Monday

By Natalie Kent, on 6 March 2013

I’m writing this post for the Hack Library School project Library Student Day in the Life. Hopefully it will provide a bit of insight into what life is like at UCL.

I’m a full-time student on the MA in Library and Information Studies at UCL. We are now well into the second teaching term, and almost half way through the course as a whole. In fact, we only have a few weeks of teaching left now and time has really flown.

This morning I had a 10 am lecture for our module Information Sources and Retrieval. I arrived into UCL a bit early and spent the time before the lecture in one of UCL’s computer clusters to sort out my emails and look at my schedule for the week ahead. Today’s session was about medical information sources. We looked at the healthcare information domain, and considered who might need access to information and the changes which have come about in recent years. I realised that ‘medical information’ is wide reaching, and not easy to define. We also looked at the different types of resources available, and where there might be intrinsic strengths and weaknesses. This session lasted 2 hours, and then we all decamped to a nearby computer cluster for a practical session to learn more about the database Medline, and specifically their free service Pubmed from a practising librarian working in neurology – a very helpful session!

After this I had lunch with friends on the course. My day technically could have finished there – I built up enough credits last term so that I don’t have to take any optional modules this term. But one of the great things about UCL is that students are able to audit additional modules, and I’d been given permission to sit in on the afternoon’s advanced cataloguing class.

The 3-hour cataloguing class was split into two halves. In the first half, a professional cataloguer shared her experience of setting up and managing a successful institutional repository. Before this I didn’t have a very extensive grasp of the metadata requirements of institutional repositories, or many of the challenges involved. We were also able to discuss issues surrounding management in cataloguing, and what different approaches might be taken. All in all it was a very interesting and helpful session. In the second half we looked at how to catalogue maps, a skill that might well come in useful at some point in the future!

My day didn’t end there as I then had an evening shift at my part-time job in a law library. Most of the students on the course do some kind of part-time work as well. I’ve certainly found it very useful to be able to apply some of the theoretical knowledge I’m building on the course in a practical way.

At the end of this rather busy day I got the bus back to my flat, feeling very glad that tomorrow morning’s lecture doesn’t start until 10!

Library School Day in the life: Day Two

By Laura J M Newman, on 5 March 2013

This is (obviously) Day Two in this project – for Day One, and for the rest of the week (in case I don’t get around to posting them here), please check out my blog at http://butilikesayingshh.wordpress.com/, or follow me on Twitter @librarylandL.

So, just a brief post tonight as I’ve been out and I have work in the morning so I want to go to bed! This is day two of my blog for Hack Library School project for the week.

Today I had Uni all day, which started at 10am (thank goodness all of the 9am starts from last term are over!). I had an hour-long lecture for my Management module, which was about HR and the policies you need to think about, such as when employing people. A lot of it was common sense, but I certainly think it’s important to underline these things for when we become professionals. After that we had a half hour break which I spent in the common room with friends, and then a seminar for the same module from 11.30-1pm. In this we had a discussion about the use of volunteers and what you need to think about when considering using them – it was a really interesting discussion and made me consider issues that I hadn’t necessarily thought about before.

We then separated into our groups and started work on our third exercise. To give you some background, as a group we’ve created an imaginary library, which we have been given a budget for. In previous exercises we’ve outlined a mission statement and goals for the organisation, divided up the budget and staffed the library. Today we had to write a job description, person specification and create an advert for the job.

The most frustrating thing that I always find about this is that we don’t have enough time to do it, and working within a group obviously means that a lot of discussion happens – not ideal when you’re pressed for time! I generally find myself in the role of time management – i.e. I hurry everyone up so that we don’t waste time. We did quite well today and ended the session by dividing up the remaining work to do in our own time, with a deadline that we all have to meet. The group work is assessed so it’s important to make sure we’re all working at it.This kind of scenario is, I think, quite important for the course as I aim to be in management one day and it’s nice to consider these issues now, but I do find it a challenge working in such a big group.

After this was lunchtime. Usually I just spend this with my friends, but today I went to talk to one of my lecturers about my dissertation ideas first. One thing I really like about UCL is how approachable the staff are, and how helpful. After the discussion I feel a lot more certain about what I’m going to do for my dissertation now, which is a relief. I can start on my proposal this weekend now; something I’ve been putting off until now!

Then, after a hurried lunch (I bring in something from home and use the microwave in the common room) I went off to my optional module for this term. I’ve chosen to do Manuscript Studies, as it’s not something I have any experience in so I thought I would see what I think.

So far, I’m really enjoying it. A lot of it is based on palaeography, and is, I have to say, a barrage of information at times considering I have little prior knowledge of this. A visiting lecturer takes the class and it’s very old-school; no PowerPoint, but just the odd word or example on the board and lots of talking! Suffice to say that this week, as always, my brain felt like mush after it! Today we did about Gothic script. We always do some transcription as we have a test on this at the end of the term, and todays examples weren’t horrific so I don’t feel too freaked out about the test. My main quibble with the class is that we only get a 5 minute break in a 3 hour class, so I often find myself flagging towards the end. I’m glad I chose it though, as it’s allowed me to try something completely different.

After class I went for dinner and to the cinema with some friends from the course, and then headed home. And that’s day two in my life!

Library School Day in the Life

By Anne Welsh, on 1 March 2013

Information lecture notesNext week students from various library schools will be taking part in Library Student Day in the Life, an initiative from the Hack Library School team based on Bobbi Newman’s Library Day in the Life project, which came to an end in 2012.

Several students from UCL’s MA LIS programme are planning to blog their experiences here, with links through to their own personal blogs (when they have one). So if you are wondering what the course is actually like, next week should give you a brief flavour.

In the meantime, you might be interested in last year’s cohort’s entries for Library Day in the Life or, indeed, in current student Laura Newman’s blog post on her first term full-time at UCL.

Other, earlier sources of information on studying here include Helen Doyle’s ‘My Week’ column in Library & Information Update, February 2011 (close-up of cutting here) and Sarah Maule’s blogging for libday6 (week commencing 24 January 2011) and  libday7 (July 2011).


Image: Information Sources lecture notes – historical examples of bibliographic control by James Curtis, #libday8 – Friday, 3 February 2012