You need a MASTERS for that!?

In the first of what we hope will be a series of interesting posts about her career, Jade Justice (yes, that is her real name) discusses why she decided to go into librarianship and the difficult choice she had to make around going to library school. Follow Jade on Twitter @JadeJJustice.

To say I made a rash decision when I moved from my parental home, sold my car, left everyone I loved and moved countries to go to Library school in Scotland, you wouldn’t be far wrong! It was the best decision I made, however, both personally and professionally.

I have always had a passion for books, my local librarian knew my name when I was young and even let me bring my little dog in so that I could browse the shelves and not leave her alone. Books have always been an escape for me; when I lost my job the library was my first stop. Reading has always helped me relax and feel better about myself, given me confidence, opened my mind to topics and ignited passions.

But… moving countries is a big deal. The majority of my friends from my university course are living all over the world, but the thought still scared me. The wasn’t the first time the thought had occurred to me to move countries, as an educated, 21st century “celtic tiger pup”*, I knew I would be leaving at some stage in my adult life. It is was you have to do to get a job you want, or to at least earn a living. This leaves a “brain drain”** behind us and we are known overseas as “diaspora.”***

My generation are used to hearing the words, “Sign on,” and I just couldn’t handle the poor job prospects; I couldn’t be another 20-something living in a small town signing on the dole and living off of the taxes I had paid up until this point.

I love Ireland, I love my friends and family and I am fluent in our native language, Gaeilge. To say I was conflicted about leaving would be an understatement.

I applied to a lot of different library schools, but the one I wanted was Robert Gordon University. I wanted to do this course because it was a year long (which meant I could move back home without being away too long) and it included my work placement in that time, with fees that I could also afford. I had never been to Scotland before, but I at least knew where Aberdeen was.

When I got the email to say I was accepted I was shocked. I didn’t think I would get in first time. I honestly thought I didn’t have the relevant experience or skills to be let in. RGU offer courses that can aid you in applying to a post-graduate course, which I would have happily done from Ireland online, so I applied in the hope that I would be accepted and worst case scenario I could do a course that helped my entry to the next round of courses. It was a rush to book flights, accommodation and to let my friends and family know I was moving.

The response I got from the majority of people I told that I was, “Moving to Aberdeen to get an MSc in Library & Information Studies!” was…. “YOU NEED A MASTERS FOR THAT?!”

Upon reflection, this is rather funny, as I would like to see those said people run a library without any background education in it. It is not easy, but it is if you have a passion for it and are aware of how a library works. It is not all books, books and more books. There are online journals, e-books, hardback journals, communication skills, IT skills, online social media management, stock management and even more. And of course the information desk and shelving.

It did take me a little longer than a year to complete my MSc, but I am happy with the reason, I was able to get a job in the Central Library in Aberdeen for 6 months! I was getting paid to do what I love, which made getting up to go to work pretty easy (once I added some coffee)! Due to this job being offered to me, I decided to start in wee Granite City and my partner soon followed because he landed his dream job. He works for BrewDog in Research & Development for the Brewing Department, or as I like to call it…. Beer Science!

After this contract I managed to get a job in oil, which last for a few months due to the situation that oil is in at the moment in Scotland. I met some lovely people there and I was able to complete my dissertation, attend my graduation and even go on a little holiday to Edinburgh while being in that role, so although it was not in a library, I do not regret it.

I am now back in a library! I am currently working at a Further Education (FE for short) Library at two different locations, one is a 10 minute walk from my flat. I started as temporary contract but it was extended this week so I will be here until July 2016. I am over the moon; I am getting the experience that I need to one day call myself a “Librarian”, which is my dream job.

My journey to get my MLIS wasn’t the same as what many typically experience; I had to leave my country to do it. It was a risk, but I was able to still have support from my friends and family while I was here on my own.

I love Aberdeen, and have my own little circle of friends built up, and aren’t friends the family you choose?


Editor’s note: I have defined some of the terms used by Jade below to clarify meaning for those unfamiliar with the economic climate in Ireland today. I felt retaining Jade’s natural language helped the piece flow better, rather than inserting clunky explanations into the text:

*For our readers unfamiliar with Irish colloquialisms, this refers to the generation of youth who grew up during a period when the Irish economy was very strong, known as the ‘Celtic Tiger‘.

**There is a concern in Ireland that as so many graduates and skilled workers move overseas due to the economic downturn, the economy will not recover due to the lack of people to work skilled roles, they call this ‘brain drain’.

***The ‘irish diaspora’ specifically refers to people who have emigrated from Ireland. It is historically significant as a term because emigration from Ireland became so widespread that a higher number of people born in Ireland have moved abroad than the number of people that made up the total population of Ireland at its peak. As such, there are people worldwide who make claims to Irish ancestry.

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