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Xiaowei, Project Cataloguer, the University of Edinburgh

Category: Blog, Meet our Members

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

Xiaowei is a Project Cataloguer and completed his CILIP Chartership in November 2020. ‘Keep learning and enjoy’ is Xiaowei’s motto!

I would like to share my story about how to get on track for professional development in the field of Information and Library Services.

I have worked as a Project Cataloguer at the University of Edinburgh Main Library since January 2014. The main duties of my work are to catalogue newly purchased books, e-books, and rare books in East Asian languages. In other words, I have contributed to the Metadata Team with my East Asian language expertise.

A particularly notable moment for me in this role came in November 2015, when I catalogued the oldest Chinese book in the University of Edinburgh’s Special Collections. The book is “Zhou yi zhuan yi da quan” and it was a woodblock print book published in China in 1440. During the cataloguing, I identified that page 178 had been numbered twice. As a result, I made a note of this in its bibliographical record. Now this rare item is in the University of Edinburgh cataloguing systems and can be found in DiscoverEd. For me, cataloguing work is rewarding, because it provides hidden services to the users.

A Chinese book published in 1440, Zhou yi zhuan yi da quan, is on DiscoverEd, the discovery interface of the University of Edinburgh

I have a natural aptitude for working with people and this ability got me my previous job working for China’s media industry some years ago. Taking this aspiration into consideration, to be a librarian seems to be the next step in my continued professional development. However, the role of a cataloguer is different from that of a librarian. When I realised this, I took action to learn more about the knowledge and skills that are required for being a librarian. The first action I took was to join an MSc Information and Library Studies course at Robert Gordon University in February 2017, and I completed this degree course in November 2019. The experience of doing an online course in this subject gave me the theoretical knowledge I needed for the information and library service profession. At the same time, I also imagined myself to be a librarian who was eagerly and actively offering help to a learner, just like me when I was an information seeker and needed resources to complete coursework.

After my postgraduate studies, I continued to gain more professional knowledge and skills through the CILIP Chartership programme. I registered on 11th November 2019 and submitted my Chartership portfolio on 11th November 2020. Comparing the two types of study, I feel that the course of postgraduate studies enabled me to reflect on my work in new ways and to approach my work with the best current practice. In contrast, the process of working on the Chartership programme encouraged me to learn based on my own interests, and the knowledge and skills acquired through the process can be applied in daily work.

When I was doing the Chartership programme, I liked reading the PKSB (Professional Skills and Knowledge Base) as it reflects the diversity of experiences and skills within the sector. I also liked being supported by the CILIP mentoring scheme: I had a mentor who I thought wonderful in giving me advice and guidance throughout this learning process. Inspired by my experience of having a great mentor helping me, in my portfolio I expressed that I would like to be a mentor in the future so that I would be able to help others achieve their Chartership aspirations. What’s more, I also read CILIP Scotland Newsletters regularly as a continued source to inform me of the development and events in the information sector in Scotland.

Compared to many others who have rich work experience in this profession, my continued professional development has so far been relatively short but supported by working while learning. To some extent, I think that either to study on a postgraduate degree course in information studies or to gain a CILIP Chartership is just part of my career development in the information sector. I enjoy learning new knowledge and skills. Now I would like to gain some practical experience in the information sector because it would be nice to practise the knowledge and skills I have learnt in a real setting. I believe I will enjoy doing this as much as I enjoy learning.

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences Xiaowei – we’re delighted that you found Chartership so rewarding and your professional development continues to go from strength to strength. We also love this graphic that you’ve designed – keep learning and enjoy, everyone!

To find out more about submitting your own Meet Our Members story, please click here.

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