October 3rd – October 10th marks Libraries Week in the UK, which is an annual celebration of the best that libraries have to offer. Each year, a different theme is explored to highlight the fantastic work that libraries do support their users and the wider community.
The theme this year is Never Stop Learning, highlighting the integral role that libraries play in supporting lifelong learning initiatives as well as helping people at every stage of life through access to information, support and learning opportunities.
The role of libraries in higher education
Whilst the role differs from institution to institution, it can be agreed that libraries in higher education are incredibly important to student outcomes – academically and beyond.
University libraries offer different services that aim to improve the student experience, including a physical space which is wholly important following the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Within libraries, students can find various materials such as books, journals, videos and more to support them on their learning journey. But beyond the physical materials, libraries and their librarians offer so much more.
In addition to providing the physical materials and a safe space, librarians go above and beyond for their users, and often, it’s the highlight of their role.
In February 2022, we spoke with Eleri Kyffin, the University of Westminster’s Academic Engagement and Development Manager who spoke highly of her time in a student-facing role.
Eleri said: “I loved working with students. They’ve always been phenomenal.
“When I was front facing, being able to work with them and just take them to the next level with whatever they’re doing was appreciated, but also you felt that you could have some impact on how they were learning and how they were coping. Knowing that they could come back for more help and more advice as they often did – just trying to help them get to the next stage of learning.”
Becoming a librarian
Whilst most of the librarians we have spoken with have been ‘accidental librarians’, meaning they found themselves in the role via an alternate path, it seems to be the best accidental decision they’d made.
Hayley Beresford, a clinical librarian at the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells (MTW) NHS Trust studied psychology as an undergrad and has a postgraduate qualification in forensic psychology.
On how she became a librarian, Hayley said: “During my education, I learnt a lot about how to do research, how to appraise research, and how to present it and that’s a core element of being a clinical librarian. It’s about supporting our staff to better use evidence and understand its quality and integrity. So… there’s the indirect, convoluted way from where I started in psychology to where I’ve ended up now.”
Supporting librarians and libraries
Don’t be a stranger – visit, use and love your library!
Libraries have a strong purpose and place in our society – be it on campus or in your local town. In addition to providing materials and support, it can also be argued that libraries also play a part in saving the planet.
Libraries have an incredible number of resources ready for you to access via their physical and digital databases, removing the need to purchase a copy for yourself – saving additional paper, and the carbon footprint produced by the delivery of physical products.
As well as materials and support, libraries can also be a social hub, for example, the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells (MTW) NHS Trust library has a book club which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. It’s open to all, creating a great space to socialise with other readers in a no-pressure environment.
Becoming a librarian
Why not join the profession?
Whilst we can only attest from a third-person point of view, librarians really seem to enjoy their jobs. Whilst we know it’s not an easy career, librarians share how rewarding their role is, which is truly endearing.
If you’d like to find out how you can become a librarian, tap here to visit Prospects.ac.uk, which is rich with information to help you achieve your goal!
Cheers to all libraries and librarians!