Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bachelor of Applied Science - majoring in Information and Library Studies

When I first moved to Wellington as a fresh faced 17 year old I started work at Wellington City New World supermarket as a check out boy. I stuck it out for 6 months before I had a wonderful call from Wellington City Libraries to come in for an interview based on my CV that I had handed into the main information desk.

I ended up interviewing well and got my first proper, respectable, job at the library, as a Customer Services Team Member (I know - very descriptive job description) and found I enjoyed it.  My job was to learn the ropes of lots of departments and branch libraries across Wellington, while covering for various people while they got training in the new library management software the library was implementing. Here I gained some invaluable library experience.

I have always wanted to learn, and that’s what I found I liked about library work, especially reference. You never knew what the day could bring, what you were going to asked to look up, and what you were going to learn yourself about the topic your patron was researching.  After all a librarian’s great skill is not knowing lots of stuff, though that’s an occupational hazard. No, a librarians’ skill lies in knowing where to find stuff out.

So with this taste for library work, I thought I might like to do this for a living.  But I needed qualifications to get the best jobs. My options for an undergraduate degree in library studies were pretty slim. I believe most overseas librarians study a masters in librarianship after doing a bachelor’s degree; perhaps in history, arts or languages, but their initial degree could be in anything. You can do that here, and many people do, but as I’ve found it’s not only option in New Zealand.

After discovering that the only undergraduate library qualifications in New Zealand were by distance, I enrolled in my first papers at the Open Polytechnic in 2003. This was a distance degree, which suited me financially, and still does, as I can work and study at the same time. I've worked and studied part-time ever since.

 It has been really good to ask practicing librarians for their options and advice to help me write papers, but I have missed being surrounded by other students on a physical campus.
So here’s me 8 years later, and only three courses to go out of 18, before getting my degree. But the last ones are non-library topics so I’m really struggling. I haven’t studied this year, July 1st, the deadline for enrolling in trimester 2, is fast approaching and I’m not yet ready to look at Statistical analysis, one of my last 3 courses I have to do to complete my degree.

Yet I’ve learned so much since finishing my last paper I completed a year ago. All from the Internet. Blogs, twitter, wikis, these have kept me entertained, challenged and learning the whole time. I love them, and would love to get them integrated with formal learning; maybe learning analytics will be the answer?

What have you studied, and how do you integrate that in with your work? Were you able to study full-time, or study part-time and work full-time, like I had to? And for those studying and working who have kids -I don't know how you do it!


  1. Hello there Tom :)

    Well, I have studied Media and Education (one paper each in total) through Vic and library studies like yourself through the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, the only institution in the country offering undergraduate qualifications in this area.

    When I started study with Vic I was ambitious in that I enrolled in eight papers (whilst keeping a part-time job of sorts), however by the end of the semester that had dwindled to two with working two part-time jobs. Fun fun fun!

    I wouldn't do anything differently if I was going to live my life again. Experience makes you the person you are today. Oh dear, I'm so sorry for blabbing all over this Tom! I may have to continue this in a blog post of my own now.... :)

  2. Hiya. I've been studying with OP for 4 years, and have my L6 Dip Information and Library Studies. This year I hope to complete my Records and Information Diploma. I feel like I've been studying forever, and am really only half way to my ILS degree still. I structured my degree so that I could pick up diplomas on the way. Some of the papers I've done I have not enjoyed at all, but I've done them as a means to an end. Other papers I've enjoyed immensely. I work full-time and I am also a mum to twin girls. The job I have at the moment is full on, but is fantastic! Distance learning is great for flexible learning, however I would love to be able to attend lectures sometimes.I fit things in by cramming at the last minute basically. I went to the graduating ceremony to receive my Dip ILS. My girls had seen me studying alot, saw that it took me away from them, so it was really important for me that they see that there was a reward for the hard work. Now they can't wait till I can wear "the hat". I can't wait either!

  3. yaay! I love that you admitted what I've wanted to admit publically for ages Seonaid!

    "I fit things in by cramming at the last minute..."

    And that's ok. Wow. I feel like a group hug now guys!

  4. That's awesome you're so close! Thanks for following my blog and hope you are enjoying the Challenge.

  5. We've a wonderful library in our little town. Looks more like an observatory than a place for books.

    But then, libraries aren't about books, really, are they?

    Much more about people, and community, and ideas, and bringing those things together to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

    Folks like you make that possible. Thanks for that! And thanks for the post.

    Dead Reckoning

  6. Hey Tom!

    Just the word statistical analysis scares me.

    For my undergrad degree math requirement I had to either take statistics or linguistics. I started out with statistics and failed miserably. I then tried linguistics and passed with a C. I'm sooo not a left brained person!

    But as a grad student in history you are my hero! I study full-time and live off of school loans and assistantships for now. I want to complete my PhD by 40 (I'm 33) so working AND studying wouldn't be an option.

    Congratulations on being only a few credits away from finishing. You'll be done soon enough. Will something change for you in your current library position once that happens?