Thursday, 14 November 2013

Memoirs of part-time study (and a few words of encouragement too) - Sam

Next up in our series of part-time students/library staff, we have Samantha Scoulding. Sam is an Assistant Librarian at Swansea Business School Library and one of the regular contributors to this blog. With a BA (Hons) in English Literature already under her belt, she made the decision in 2004 to become a professional librarian and enrolled on a course in Aberystwyth University. Here she tells us about her motivation and some of the challenges she faced:-


By June 2004 I had been working  as a library assistant at Swansea Institute Of Higher Education (as it was back then!) for 8 years and decided it was time to get serious about my career! I had always intended to qualify as a professional librarian but had somehow never got around to it. The thought of giving up a steady job to go back to university in Aberystwyth full-time was a daunting one, so I settled upon a different route towards achieving the same goal – I enrolled on the MSc ILS course as a distance learner. Luckily for me I was given financial support and encouragement by my employer and was appointed to a Trainee Librarian post while I studied, gaining valuable on-the-job experience at the same time.
Becoming a student again eight years after leaving the education system was certainly a challenge. I had to learn new skills such as writing reports and business plans – something I’d never had to do for my first degree in English Literature! Time management was also a big factor, it wasn’t easy fitting in all the reading and assignment writing around my normal working hours, although I was given some time in work to do this as part of my vocational training which helped a lot. The biggest challenge however was the isolation of being a distance learner. It’s not easy trying to motivate yourself without regular lectures, tutorials and the camaraderie of being around other students studying the same course (and going through the same problems) as yourself. I got around this by going to the residential study school once a year, making heavy use of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and various student forums, plus keeping in contact via email with fellow students…even picking up the phone to call my lecturer (in tears on one occasion!) when I was struggling to cope.
Due to personal circumstances I decided against completing my course to Masters level but I did successfully gain my professional qualification – PG Dip ILS – in December 2008 and am now working for UWTSD Swansea as a fully-fledged Assistant Librarian. The main lessons I took on board from my distance learning experience are; don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, learn in bite-sized chunks (don’t look at the marathon ahead, concentrate on the current hurdle) and push your boundaries…you’re often capable of more than you think!

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