Putting Education Into Practice

Happy New Year! It’s 2015! Time to resurrect this blog!

It’s a bit embarrassing to note that the last entry here was from 2012. I hadn’t finished my library course, I hadn’t started working in the public library service. I’m not going to talk too much about the specifics of the course at this stage (maybe that will be the topic of a future post) but I will talk a bit about my dissertation, and how I have been able to put it to practical use in the library where I work.

A quick recap - I did my MA in Information Studies at Brighton University.* While doing that, I got a job as a library assistant at Hastings Public Library. When it came time to choose a topic for my Masters dissertation, I was encouraged by the University to talk to my employers about potential subjects they wanted researched. I ended up looking into what public libraries (in general, as well as specifically Hastings Library) can/do/should offer unemployed job seekers.** Hastings has one of the highest levels of unemployment in the region, so it is definitely a pertinent topic. I interviewed local organisations and unemployed jobseekers about the services currently offered in the town and to identify any gaps in provision, and spent a frantic three months writing up the dissertation.

Submitting my thesis.

I ended the dissertation with a number of recommendations for Hastings Library to improve their offer to unemployed jobseekers. The 'if you do nothing else, do this' recommendation for the library was to promote and market the services it already provides, specifically targeting job seekers. It was received enthusiastically, but the library is in the process of undergoing a major renovation, and I was told that they would take my recommendations into consideration when opening the new library (currently due to open its doors in 2016). That was about a year ago, and I didn’t think much more about it.

Then, about six months ago, I had another look through my dissertation’s recommendations, and thought ‘I can do some of this now! Why wait?!’. So, after a chat with my SLA,*** I set to work creating two things:

1. A directory of local and national services for job seekers in Hastings (to be available in both electronic and print formats).

2. A leaflet highlighting and promoting the services offered by the library, highlighting the free resources, where to find useful books (including a brief Dewey Guide), and volunteer and educational opportunities.

Finding time to work on these documents has been difficult, but they are now nearing completion and will hopefully be available to the public this month. They will be an on-going project, and will need to be kept up to date as new services and resources come and go. I need to talk to library management and the area librarian to figure out how best to keep on top of this.

It feels really satisfying to have been able to use a specific piece of course work from my Masters to create a resource that will be useful to the local community and to the library itself.

I will report back once they go live.

*That course is currently in limbo while the University does some ‘restructuring’.
**Not all unemployed people are job seekers, and not all job seekers are unemployed.
***Senior Library Assistant (although after a recent ‘restructuring’**** in the Library Service, that position no longer exists).
****It is impossible for me to use the word ‘restructuring’ without enclosing it in quotation marks.

What do you think?