Colleen Tierney

Oakgrove Library books

I am currently a school librarian at Oakgrove Integrated College in Derry.  I have been in the role for four years and I really enjoy my employment.  I first got into the Information and Library profession by working in the public libraries as a library assistant.  I worked there for two years before taking a career break to go travelling on a round-the-world ticket.  When I arrived back home I resumed my library assistant position for a few months before the opportunity arose to work as a librarian in a post-primary school.

I studied at Queens University Belfast and graduated in 2005 with a BA Honours in Social Anthropology.  I am currently studying for a Masters in Library and Information Management at the University of Ulster.  The course is part time and I am in my final year.  It has been a lot of hard work but has been an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

Embarking on the Masters has been beneficial not only for my own personal development but it has had a positive and valuable impact on my workplace as the skills and knowledge I am learning can be put into practice.

My job can be quite varied and no two days are the same.  The main duties can be divided into two main categories which cover back room administration tasks and visible interactive undertakings with students.  The former includes working with a budget to purchase equipment and materials, ordering new stock and processing new acquisitions.  The latter includes leading class visits, facilitating homework club and supporting students in their studies to name but a few.  What I love most about my job is the variation each day brings and the feeling of satisfaction and pride when students succeed in their goals.

One such area is reading achievement and this can be demonstrated through Accelerated Reader.  It has been introduced into Oakgrove Integrated College and is a project that I am very much involved in.  Accelerated Reader is a computerised program that monitors and manages independent reading and motivates students to read for pleasure.  It assesses the reading level of students, quizzes them on their comprehension after reading a book and provides a variety of reports for teachers

At the beginning of the program students take a test, known as a Star Reading Test that will provide them with a reading range.  Students are encouraged to read books that fall within their range as these books are appropriate to their reading ability.  Once a student has finished their book they take another quiz based on the contents of the book, with the aim of achieving an 85% pass rate and if they succeed they win points.  The aim of Accelerated Reader is to provide a resource base of quizzes that will encourage children to read and accumulate points which in turn may increase their reading skills.  This is a project I co-ordinate and thoroughly enjoy.

Competence in co-ordinating and organising are important skills for library and information professionals to possess.  I feel that desirable attributes also include good communication skills, knowledge in their field and the ability to work well with people.

If anyone feels that they possess these skills then I would recommend a career in library and information management.  It is a fulfilling and worthwhile job.  As the profession is constantly evolving I would recommend joining a professional group or becoming involved in a professional activity.  It is a good way of staying abreast of current issues and trends.  This is something I have just embarked on by recently joining the CILIP Ireland committee.

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