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Archive for December, 2012

I am coming up to my 6 month probation review at work, which makes it an ideal time to reflect on what I have learnt as a new professional, how my Masters has prepared me and how I can further improve and develop my skills and knowledge. A lot has happened to me in this time, and this is a personal exercise for me to examine my professional development, rather than a post to be an interesting or useful read to anyone, other than possibly new professionals – so I apologise for this post in advance!

So, what exactly was I doing 6 months ago?

In July 2012 I was still studying at UCL for an MA in Library and Information Studies, when I secured my first professional post as an Information Officer at Trowers & Hamlins LLP. Knowing job openings are heavily oversubscribed and few and far between, I started job hunting in April, thinking it would be at least September before I would be successful… how wrong I was.

TFPL, a recruitment agency for information professionals, contacted me through my LinkedIn profile (proof that LinkedIn actually works), and within a week I got a job! And not just any job, but the exact kind of role I was looking for – in a corporate legal library, in a firm that seemed to value and respect its library service, and a role with responsibilities I already had a little experience with, and lots of brand new responsibilities for me to learn from. I think it is important if possible to have a balance, where you can have a confidence with the experience you do have and the expertise you can bring to the role, as well as to have lots of scope to learn new skills.

At the same as starting my new job, I was about to jet off to Chicago for the SLA (Special Libraries Association) annual conference, as I had won the Early Career Conference Award earlier in the year. Not only that, but I had also started busily writing my dissertation. It wasn’t the best timing in the world, but that summer made me realise how productive you can be if you really put your mind to it!

So what does my role as an Information Officer consist of?

JournalsMy primary responsibility is for the library’s journal collection. Each morning I check the journals we receive in on to the library management system Sydney Plus (which took me a while to grapple with), and send them out for circulation around the lawyers, PSLs, etc. each morning. I also organise journal renewals, cancellations and acquisitions, and complete all of the admin and invoices that go along with that. In addition I complete the invoices and cataloguing for any new editions of books that we receive in the Library.

I am also the library rep for the Corporate department and the Banking & Finance department. This basically means that I (should) be aware of their major resources, I am responsible for training any starters in those departments, and I profile all of their know how so they can access it on our intranet. We are not embedded in the departments, but I do think that having a rep in the Library for a department is very useful. Most obviously, you get to develop a personal relationship with that department, which I feel makes you an ambassador for the library service and enables you to effectively market the library as a resource.  Furthermore, by providing training and profiling their subject you get to know the department’s needs and be able to serve them more effectively.

I am going a little bit off track here, but back to business. The other major part of my job is manning the Enquiry Desk for 2 or 3 full days a week alternately. I know at other firms that the Desk is manned in half day shifts, but I do think that having full days is probably more efficient; it allows you to get your teeth in to long and complex enquiries, rather than having to hand them over to a colleague half way through. Although, it can be rather tiring being on the Desk for 2 days in a row! This is therefore the most time consuming aspect of my job, and is also the one I have learnt the most from and still have the most to learn about.

So there you have it – this is what I tend to be doing on a daily basis as a new professional in a law firm library. There are 6 of us in the library team: 1 Director, 2 Senior Information officers, 2 (regular) Information Officers and 1 Library Assistant. Each information officer has a specialised role, for example one is responsible for current awareness in the form of RSS feeds and trawling news sites, and another is responsible for the daily press cuttings service we offer and new book acquisitions. We are all department reps and all share the responsibility of the Enquiry Desk apart from the Library Assistant.

I am going to split the next few professional development blog posts in to the past, present and future by answering the following questions:

  • How has my Masters and previous work experience prepared me for my 1st professional role?
  • What have I been doing since beginning my role to aid my professional development, and what have I achieved in my first 6 months?
  • What knowledge, skills and experience am I currently lacking in and how can I improve?

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