After reading “Why should special librarians defend public librarians?” by @Woodsiegirl I started thinking about the interplay between special and public libraries and wanted to share my experiences of making module choices for my MA programme. Whilst I can no means claim to be any particular type of librarian or information professional, my interests have been very much focussed towards ‘special’ libraries. This was influenced mainly by my graduate traineeship in a law library and volunteering in an engineering library. So, when I started my MA, I was determined that all my module choices would point in that direction. Despite this, when it came to finalising my options I decided to branch out and take the public libraries module. I’m really glad I did this and as a result I wanted to put down a few points relating to my experiences of choosing modules in the hope that come the next academic year it might help someone!
To illustrate the enjoyment that I have gained from picking a module outside my future career aims, I wanted to mention the visits I have attended. The prison library visit I blogged about the other week was linked to the public libraries module, and today we visited a local branch library and were kindly hosted by the Head of Library Services. Today was a really interesting talk and focussed on the provision of library services for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities. If it wasn’t for the public libraries module that I’m currently taking I would have missed out on both of these experiences. Now a few points that will hopefully be useful…
- Do not worry too much about tying everything to your future job hopes: I was very concerned about increasing my employability by choosing modules relevant to my future aspirations. By diversifying I not only feel more knowledgeable about the profession as a whole, but feel more able to talk about areas of librarianship that I knew little about previously- surely that can only be a good thing for networking and interviews?!
- Pick something you think you will enjoy: This one is self explanatory really, and is a staple for pretty much every bit of advice on choosing modules, but it is true. I love my modules, and feel more inclined to sit and work at something I find interesting. It is a great way to give a bit of extra ‘oomph’ towards the end of term as deadlines approach.
- Choose something outside of your normal interests: This kind of contrasts with the previous point, but I think it is still important. Pushing yourself outside your normal interests, and outside your comfort zone is a good thing. It can add an extra challenge to your course, and makes for a good talking point.
- Try not to choose modules just on how they are assessed: I was tempted to look for modules that were only assessed through essay writing, but after a bit of thinking and inspiration inspired by a slide show by thewikiman I realised I should probably do a module with a bit of a technical side to it. Plus it is nice to have a change from writing to something more practical once in a while!
- Modules aren’t the be all and end all of your career direction: Or at least I hope not. See Lex Rigby’s post which discussses the structure of career paths I’m no careers counsellor, but I like to think that what you do in addition to your module choices can count just as much for future employment as what you do on the course. Get involved in other things too!