How did you first get into the information and library profession? The University of Maine (Fogler Library) in the USA is where my library career began in 1993. I was studying for my Masters in History at the University of Maine at the time while working in the library. I gained experience working in Special Collections and Reference before moving to the Listening Centre. I was lucky enough to work a little on the papers of Stephen King and Senator William S. Cohen. I am still in touch with my colleagues from Fogler Library, where it all started.
After the USA, I taught English in Japan for three years (on the JET programme) before returning to N. Ireland where I resumed my library career at Queen’s University, Belfast. From 2004 until 2013, I worked in Further Education.
What qualifications did you take? I completed my first degree at the University of Ulster. I then studied and lived in Maine for almost 10 years where I completed my MA in History. I became chartered and soon after obtained my MSc. in Library and Information Management.
What is your current job title? Librarian at St Mary’s University College, Belfast.
What does your job involve? My role varies from determining strategic priorities for developing new service initiatives to overseeing staff matters and budgeting. I also implement new technologies to ensure the service remains, accessible, relevant and up to date for all our users.
Can you describe a ‘typical’ day? There really isn’t a typical day. There are scheduled issues to deal with every week but there is always something new and interesting. In fact, I have just had a CLA (copyright) audit.
What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional? Excellent customer engagement and customer service skills are important, as well as, developing effective relationships both within and outside the library. The Library team at St Mary’s University College are a certified customer service team with WorldHost. It is also essential for today’s information and library professional to engage and embrace new library innovations.
What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in information management? Recent developments in information technology have radically changed our roles. Adaptability and being open to change are important attributes in the library environment. It is important to understand the needs of the information user and the role of libraries in view of these developments.
I am currently a committee member on a number of Library and Information committees. Making connections and building enduring, mutually beneficial associations are also crucial.