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Lynsey Sampson, Senior Library Assistant, University of Strathclyde

Category: Meet our Members

This blog is part of our Meet Our Members series, focusing on different members and their careers.

My name is Lynsey and I work as a Senior Library Assistant in the Research and Learning Support team (RLS) within the University of Strathclyde’s Andersonian Library. Although I am relatively new to this role, having been in this position for three months, I have been working within the University of Strathclyde Andersonian Library since 2010 where I started as a Weekend Library Assistant.

You could say that working in the Andersonian Library was ‘meant to be’ for me, having studied as an undergraduate at Strathclyde and now here I am on the other side as a staff member! My first taste of working in libraries was my supply work in my local library. I enjoyed being surrounded by books (as I am a keen reader!) as well as having a front-facing role helping my local community. This spurred me on to undertake my MSc in Library and Information Studies at the University of Strathclyde in 2009, which I absolutely loved! I learnt library skills, met like-minded individuals, as well as gained knowledge on key library issues. My course placement at the Andersonian Library provided me with the platform to secure my weekend position, which in turn allowed me to apply internally for my first full-time job within the Andersonian Library, working as a Library Assistant in the Acquisitions department. This was the ‘big break’ I had been waiting for into my preferred library sector as prior to this I had been working full-time as an Information Officer for a mental health charity. With my interests lying directly with serving customers, I was able to progress internally to my role as Information Services Assistant with the IS Enquiries Service, providing the first point of contact for customers with their Library and IT enquiries. I enjoyed responding to a wide range of enquiries within this role, where I often signposted initial enquiries onto other departments. By doing so, I was able to identify in-depth library enquiry work carried out by the RLS department as something that fascinated and interested me, resulting in feeling like my current position within RLS is now where I belong.

Whilst in the IS Enquiries team, I took on the additional role of Customer Service Excellence Champion where I contributed towards the library achieving CSE accreditation last year! It has been really exciting and has given me a real sense of ownership taking on sub-projects like mystery shopping, benchmarking, and customer journey mapping to really envisage our service from the customer’s perspective. I am pleased to continue this role into my new post where I will continue to undertake sub-projects to help maintain our accreditation.

Before leaving the IS Enquiries team, I decided to undertake my CILIP Chartership as I felt it was a good way to show my commitment to the library profession. It also allowed me to put all of my pre-existing library visits and attendance at conferences to good use, using them as valuable Chartership evidence. Chartership was an interesting and worthwhile process, as it motivated me to keep a log of all of my library activities – including my committee member role as Web Editor for CILIPS’s Academic Research Library Group Scotland – and practice continued reflection, translating this into writing reflectively about my experiences. Through my genuine passion in all thing’s library, my continued dedication (including visiting two academic libraries during my Honeymoon to Japan!), and the valuable support, guidance, and feedback on fine-tuning my reflective writing skills from my mentor in the last few months of my journey, I managed to achieve accreditation in a year and a half! I would recommend Chartership to anyone and believe it has stood me in good stead to reach where I am now whilst also teaching me the importance of continuing professional development.

My new role as a Senior Library Assistant within RLS requires me to assist customers to a greater depth and I have already found that this is really helpful in sharpening my library and information research skills. I love getting involved in devising new and creative ways to support everyone who uses our service. I can be found positioned behind the level 5 enquiry desk where my job is to support all of our stakeholders face to face, by email, and telephone. No enquiry is the same; from helping customers use the library catalogue and directing them to the resources they require, to providing in-depth support and guidance on all types of referencing styles! I am also able to identify and navigate appropriate databases and utilise our ‘LibGuides’ for literature searching and, in some cases, this leads me onto arranging for students to have one-to-one appointments with their Faculty Librarian. Being located on level 5 feels as if I am running and maintaining my own small library, as this is where half of the main library book collection is kept. I liken my role to that of a helpful detective, as I often find myself working with customers to establish what they really want, whether it’s a missing book or some help identifying the best database to use for their literature search. I enjoy collaborating with teams across the university to ensure the service we are providing is continuously meeting or exceeding expectations. I really enjoy assisting the Faculty Librarians in their regular skills boost sessions on topics such as Google Scholar and literature searching or our practical workshops such as Lego for referencing or Endnote online. Each of these sessions provides me with an opportunity to engage with students in a classroom environment as well as learn from different teaching styles. I relish practising my communication skills in my ‘tour guide’ capacity, where I regularly provide library tours to different types of customers, from new students to prospective students and their families, and I appreciate that this plays an important part for these groups in forming their impressions on our library and university.

My advice for anyone joining the profession is to search for library opportunities and then work at achieving these – from library experience and job positions to CILIP groups, library conferences, and library visits – as you never know what door they could open for you, and where you will be further down the line!

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