If you decide you do want to become a librarian, there are a number of options after the trainee year. You can do an MA or MSc in Library and Information Science, either full-time or part-time, or by distance learning. Or you may decide to get more experience before deciding on a university course. Funding is becoming an increasingly important consideration in making this decision.
Each year in about October CPD25 run a one day course in London ‘Applying to study Library and Information Science’. It is well worth trying to go on this course because all the options are discussed, as well as issues such as funding and chartership. It is also an opportunity to network with other trainees.
For trainees wanting to stay in London there three universities within the central London area which offer both full time and part time courses in LIS:
City has a reputation for focussing on the technical and computing side of librarianship. City University makes frequent use of virtual learning environments and online discussion groups. People who have done the part-time course say that City University is good at supporting students who aren’t able to get on site a lot.
For a report on a recent opening evening about the three Information Studies courses offered at City, please click here.
University College London
UCL has a reputation for focussing on core library skills, such as cataloguing and classification. A very important factor to remember for trainees wishing to do the course at UCL is that applications need to be submitted early in the December before the year of starting. See the website for the actual date. UCL also interview applicants.
London Metropolitan University
London Metropolitan is another option for those wishing to stay in London. Unlike the UCL or City courses, London Met offers the option of doing a library qualification with a mangerial focus. As we were informed at a career development event, the library profession increasingly expects people to take on some of the duties of a manager regardless of their position, making the London Met course particularly relevant. The Information Management MA combines tradition library skills such as cataloguing and classification alongside modules such as Information Services Management and Managing Digital Resources.
While London offers several reputable library courses, increased tuition fees and high living costs mean many people are choosing to complete their library qualifications elsewhere. Trainees in the last few years have had positive experiences of a wide variety of universities. Some alternatives to the London universities include:
University of Brighton
Brighton University has run library courses since 1947 and is a centre for library studies research in the South East of England. It has strong links with library institutions in the area. The information studies course they offer covers the core library skills. In addition there is a work placement which combines with a dissertation in the final part of the year. The links the university has in the area enables the placement work to be of particular value and is matched to the interests of the student. There are typically around twenty students on the course each year. The course has a blog called ‘Information Matters’.
University of Strathclyde
Strathclyde offers two courses that are accredited by CILIP - Information and Library Studies and Information Management. Trainees that are able to move to Scotland may well find this a good option, as the tuition fees and living costs are considerably lower than those in London. The department at Strathclyde also has a very good reputation
The University of Aberystwyth runs several at both postgraduate and undergraduate level in library and information science with a wide variety of course options. Many students choose Aberystwyth for their option to study via distance learning. Although this can be very demanding as you do not have access to the same resources as those studying onsite and are completing the course without the support of fellow students, it does offer the flexibility to complete the course at a slower pace and work full time. With financial considerations a high priority for students, the distance learning option is increasing in popularity. The course is completed on a modular basis and can be taken over a longer period than most part time courses.
University of Sheffield The courses available at the University of Sheffield's Information Shool have a very good reputation and offer some more specialised MSc qualifications including Digital Library Management and Health Informatics, alongside the more traditional MA in Librarianship.
There is a strong managerial focus at Loughborough with two CILIP accredited options offered - Information and Library Management and Information and Knowledge Management. Loughborough offers some optional modules that are unique to their courses including Gender and Information, as well as offering options such as Digital Curation and The Child and the Book for those interested in more specialised areas of librarianship.
These are just a selection of the postgraduate qualifications that are available. For a full list of those courses accredited by CILIP, please click here.
Gaining more experience
As tuition fees are being increased year upon year, some trainees in the past have chosen to try and gain further experience rather than go directly to library school. This can help broaden your options and give a taste of other roles in different kinds of libraries. It also means that if you do go on to complete the library qualification, you will have a wider variety of experience to draw upon in both your studies and when applying for jobs later on.