Friday, 20 March 2015

22b - Delyth Morris, Cardiff University

The second of our posts this week is from Delyth.

Hello! I’m Delyth Morris, and I’ve recently been appointed the Dental and Medical Librarian in Cardiff University. But more about that later. Firstly, how did I end up in this job?! Like many other contributors to this blog, I had a very traditional route to the library sector; after graduating with a degree in English Literature and Language I felt I needed a vocational qualification to help me stand out to employers, especially in the economic climate of the time. The only work experience I’d ever had, other than retail jobs throughout my teen/student years, was one week of work experience in Cardiff Central Library. This experience, coupled with seeking advice from a librarian in the family (it was inevitable really!), led me to undertake an MA in Information and Library Management. Nothing out of the ordinary.

After finishing the MA, I expectantly applied for jobs…. and I’m not sure I had realised quite how difficult it would be to get a job in a library, let alone a professional post. After many unfruitful experiences applying for jobs and interviews, I decided enough was enough and I was going to try and get experience in a different way; I applied for EU funding via ‘The Leonardo Programme’ and before I knew it I was in Florence attempting to learn Italian and working in a public library, Biblioteca delle Oblate. This was a fascinating experience. The library doubled up as an exhibition space, so I learnt a lot about marketing. Given my abysmal language skills, the experience also taught me a lot about empathising with users when there is a language barrier. There was also a brilliant café at the top of the library with a view over the Duomo, which sold Campari and Aperol Spritz at ALL times of the day!

The library was used as an exhibition space – here a string quartet played in the atrium outside the office
On returning to Britain I finally had some library experience, all be it in a foreign country. After a brief spell as a Librarian in a branch library, I started work as a Library Assistant in Cardiff University. Although not a professional post, it was a job in a library, and I viewed it as the perfect opportunity to gain experience. I furthered my customer service skills through enquiry work, got to grips with library systems and most importantly, I volunteered for all sorts of experiences. My favourite was a trip to Milan; I took advantage of the university’s ERASMUS staff development opportunity and went to visit and work in the university library service in Milan for three weeks. I learnt so much through this experience; equal measures of jealousy for their libraries which were in beautiful, historical buildings (one library was based in the former ice store of a hospital, complete with meat hooks for storing meat for patients) and relief at how lucky I was to work in the HE sector in Britain. The provision of information literacy was a battle; I watched one librarian shoehorn a 2 minute library induction into the end of a first year introductory lecture. I was also told that for every purchase made by acquisitions, they had to complete an ‘Anti-Mafia’ declaration form. I initially thought this was a joke at my expense! The experience was brilliant, and the morning coffee breaks every day were fab too!

The libraries in the University of Milan were in architecturally amazing buildings
A few months after this experience I got my first professional post; an Information Specialist working for the National Collaborating Centre for Cancer [NCC-C] undertaking literature searches for NICE cancer guidelines.

So, to come back full circle to my current job as promised. After a year in a fixed term post for the NCC-C, I returned to Cardiff University and am lucky enough to be doing a job which I’ve been hankering after for years; Subject Librarian. I’m very new to the post, but I get to do all the things I’ve enjoyed in my previous roles combined in one job; customer service and enquiry work, information literacy teaching, literature searching, marketing, collection development and many, many more.  Moving forward from here I want to make sure I keep grasping at opportunities that come my way. I’m currently in the process of completing CILIP Chartership and hope to start a teaching qualification soon.

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