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Meghan jones

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For me, librarianship is a career change. I come from a very technical background – I learnt to code as a child and then I worked in and around the IT industry as a web designer/codemonkey/technical support for most of my late teens/early twenties and chose an undergraduate degree (BSc. Web Content Management) at Manchester Met, that while softer than traditional technical degrees was still going to get me into more work along the same lines as pre-university.

But by the time I finished my BSc. I’d burnt out on the IT industry and was staring down my graduation date with absolutely no idea where or what I was going to do after that.

So I started considering other careers. I’d always been a voracious reader and as a child, I spent a lot of time in various libraries, including a happy stint as a 'book assistant' in one of my schools' library. I’d been able to apply my library knowledge very well at Uni in that I might have learnt how to play the system at Uni – 5 copies with a month-long loan of the core textbook and approx. 150 students? Ahahaha! Guess who always got a long loan copy? For all the students who carefully checked the OPAC, I'd just go straight for the reshelving shelves! – and I’d always been an information/object organiser. I have a hobby where I actively worked as an archivist for several years and in my second year of my degree I had the opportunity to do an internship/Leonardo Da Vinci scholarship abroad where I worked for a digital archiving/information retrieval company (AiP Beroun in the Czech Republic.

I ended up writing my dissertation on Archives and Archiving in Online Subcultures.

Suddenly my career path looked a lot clearer. I applied and interviewed for several Graduate Traineeships (mostly in London, mostly law but also the V&A) before ending up at The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn and after working there, in that fascinating library for a year, I had pretty much decided that yes, this was the career for me, particularly at the time, law libraries (a third of my degree was law related, so I already had an interest in IT law, IPR etc. I even - briefly! - considered a conversion degree but thankfully, the legal system was spared that fate!)

I then went on to do my library MSc. at City University (my thesis was on social tagging/folksonomies as information access points in online communities) and while doing that, I worked as the librarian for a set of Barristers (which included setting up an online catalogue of sorts of their books, using LibraryThing), a Knowledge Management assistant in another law firm, a brief diversion into publishing as a Front-half Assistant for Nature and then as the solo Librarian for the London office of a US law firm.

The last job was maternity cover, so when that came to an end, I started hunting again and actually ended up leaving the legal sector entirely. I became the Assistant Electronic Systems Librarian at The King's Fund, which is a independent Health and Social care policy think-tank. In a way, I went full circle again and ended up back in IT because as a Systems Librarian, I did't do much traditional library work - outside of my time on the enquiry desk, I lived in a world of code and tech as 90% of my duties revolved around looking after our Open Source LMS (Koha), writing or maintaining the various databases and other tools we supplied to the rest of the library and being the voice of the library on social media. I also ran training sessions for staff on things like RSS.

When that contract finished, I took a short term contract as an intranet assistant in a global engineering company and then ended up being seconded to their Knowledge Management team, where I do a lot of work on the development of our internal People and Project tools, along with various other bits of Knowledge Management.

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