I am currently packing my bags as I prepare to return to the UK on Wednesday. Funnily, I always seem to do my best blogging/emailing/Facebook updating when I’m meant to be doing some other chore.
As I get ready to begin the LLM in International Law and Sustainable Development, I find myself wondering whether the grass will be greener on the other side. You may have already picked up on the fact that I did not intend to leave the library and information field at this early stage in my career, but had to leave my position in Scotland due to a series of misunderstandings regarding the nature of my previous work permit and changes in immigration regulations.
So, I did want any single, newly unemployed twenty-something would have done and moved to Syria (this seemed like a much better idea back in December 2010). I quickly found work as a teacher there, which gave me some time to decide my next career move. Looking through the job advertisements at the time, I didn’t see too many jobs for early career professionals that really interested me. I felt I was too experienced to go into a truly entry level position (if indeed such a thing exists for librarians), but knew that I did not have enough experience for the mid-career positions I saw advertised. In fact, looking through the academic library positions in my native US, it seemed as though all the interesting positions had one feature in common: they all “strongly preferred” a candidate with an additional advanced subject degree.
I decided that since I did not have a permanent job anyway, this would be a good time for me to return to higher education for an advanced subject degree. It is something I had always considered, but wasn’t sure whether I would ever be able to do it full-time. I considered a number of courses in disciplines such as education, sociology, politics, history, economics, and law. Partially inspired by my experiences in Syria, I narrowed my options down to three courses. I applied for the MRes in Equality in Human Rights, LLM Human Rights Law, and LLM International Law and Sustainable Development. As luck would have it, I was accepted onto all three courses and spent considerable time weighing up the merits of each one before finally deciding on the LLM International Law and Sustainable Development.
I am excited about being a full-time student again, even though I have mixed feelings about being away from frontline library services for another year. Of course, I plan to maintain my academic interests in the information profession, and it will be interesting to see how my experiences as a librarian and teacher inform my understanding of the upcoming course material. With universal access to primary education and government transparency firmly on the development agenda, it will be interesting to see the connections between education, access to information, international development, and sustainability.
We all know the past few years have been really tough for librarians, info pros, and library supporters. Although I don’t want to turn my back on the challenges, I think it will be really helpful for me to step back a bit and gain a different perspective. I’m not sure whether the grass will be any greener, but I hope this experience challenges me to think about libraries, education, and information services in different ways, as well as introducing me to other issues I know little about.