Crazy, Scary, Wonderful

During my last review, I hinted that things had gotten a little crazy in my life recently. Here’s the thing: I’m writing this post from London. Big deal, I hear you think, but actually its half way around the world from where I usually write my blog posts, being that I live in Melbourne, and the reason I’m here is pretty huge. But let me start from the beginning:

For the past two and a half years I’ve been immersed in studying to gain a Master of Information Management, allowing me to hopefully stop being a failed editor and start becoming an incredibly successful library and information worker.

I can’t lie. This course has been pretty hard on me. My undergraduate degree was in professional writing and editing: I never had to cite works; or write business reports, research proposals, essays. It took a lot of getting used to, but more than that was the constant feeling of inadequacy I had to battle.

I’ve recently found after speaking to some of my fellow students, that I’m not alone in this feeling that maybe we’re just pretending and we don’t actually know what we’re doing. Some of my fellow students are changing from doctor’s careers, or lawyers or chemists and can bring their previous knowledge to their work. I feel like all my previous experience qualifies me for is to say ‘I love books’ and believe me, that just doesn’t cut it in proper library work. Don’t get me wrong; I know objectively that my editing training gives me an eye for detail that would certainly come in handy during cataloguing, and that I have learnt a lot which will come flooding back when I have to use that knowledge in the field… but I still feel unprepared.

It may seem strange then, that I applied for, and am about to start a placement at the British Library. This is one of the biggest libraries in the world, and it’s an enormous honour to be accepted. When I applied I was still in two minds, apprehensive about what being accepted might mean as much as excited about the prospect. I figured that I would just throw my hat in, so to speak, and that if I wasn’t capable then my teachers wouldn’t recommend me or the library wouldn’t accept me. Here I am, though – starting tomorrow.

When I first arrived, I took half a day to find the library, and register as a reader (something which threw me off guard a bit because they expected me to already have a list of items I wanted to view). Unfortunately I walked that first day and it’s doable, but possibly not advisable if I don’t want to tire myself out before even starting. So I’m not quite sure of the bus routes around the area, meaning I’ll have to use the (more expensive?) tube.

I was told the library was ugly, and while it’s true the outer walls are plain brick, and the façade isn’t as gorgeous as some of the more historical buildings I’ve seen in my travels, once you go through the gate into the courtyard it’s immediately apparent that this is somewhere special – and anyone who can walk through the front doors and look up from the foyer into the masses of levels above and not be moved by the weight of knowledge implied is just dead inside.

I’m hoping to update my progress each day as I go along, but don’t be surprised if I end up doing it in batches. I haven’t said anything about my week of sightseeing yet, after all and I had originally planned to chronicle that daily.

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