As Library Manager at North West Regional College I am responsible for library facilities and resources on our 3 main campuses in Derry/Londonderry, Limavady and Strabane as well as a large open access Learning Resource Centre with 150 PCs and 6 study pods. Staff wise, there is myself and six Library & Learning Resource assistants, two of whom are “lone-rangers” in Limavady & Strabane.
I see our role as being three-fold:
- Service provision
- Outreach & engagement
This applies to both our lecturing staff and our students. A tutor who recognises the benefits of library resources will do much of our outreach work for us among their students. I feel strongly that the start of term is crucial for the library in a college like ours and that a student’s first impression of us is equally so – if a student gets a friendly welcome by knowledgeable Library staff and has their query answered we will probably have a regular library user for the duration of their course.
Much of my time is spent on e-resources – discovering and sourcing them; evaluating them; ordering them; creating access to them; demonstrating them; troubleshooting them; measuring and reporting their usage. This is in complete contrast to when I started in 1996 in the old Limavady College when all our resources were print-based, save for a few CD-ROMs; we used library tickets (2 per student); a card index and there was a grand total of one computer in the library. This was my first full-time library post having completed a postgrad qualification in Aberystwyth following a History degree at UU.
The technology may have changed but I think the skillset remains the same –
- people skills
- willingness to embrace change
These are the main attributes required as I see it.
We come into contact with a wide variety of different students – from Level 1 courses to Foundation Degree students; from teenagers who have just left school to more mature people who haven’t been in an educational environment for many years; from people who embrace new technologies to those who are wary of them. This is not always easy and the skills involved should not be under-estimated; however it is undoubtedly this aspect of helping individuals that is the most enjoyable part of the job.
I spend a lot of time collating statistics and reporting to college managers – footfall levels; number of book issues, down to department and course level; usage stats for e-resources i.e. who is using the library and who isn’t and showing that we get value for money from our resources. I also obtain the views of our students whether by Focus Groups or Comment Cards or other methods and this feedback forms the basis of future planning.
Librarianship is a great career and one which I would heartily recommend.
It is simultaneously traditional and contemporary – when I was studying in Aberystwyth 20 years ago we were sending e-mails and creating web pages before most people had heard of them and recently we were one of the first departments in the college to use iPads.
- It is simultaneously traditional and contemporary – when I was studying in Aberystwyth 20 years ago we were sending e-mails and creating web pages before most people had heard of them and recently we were one of the first departments in the college to use iPads.
- It treats everyone the same – access to our resources is available to all our students.
- Finally, it is the variety of the people I meet and the subjects I help them with which make it enjoyable.