University College London

University College London alumni gave Beyond the Bun their insider view

UCL - typewriterFormer UCL Library and Information Studies graduates give their thoughts on the courses they studied.

Sarah Rhodes - alumna of University College London  School of Library and Information Science From Sarah Rhodes currently International Development, Forced Migration, African and Commonwealth Subject Consultant at the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.


I attended the School of Library and Information Science (SLAIS), UCL from 1991-1992.  I received the Diploma and Masters degree in Library and Information Science after completion of my dissertation.  I chose this School primarily because I was then working at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the African section of the Library there.  UCL was literally next door and my boss at the time suggested that it would be convenient and useful to work towards a professional library qualification.  They also ran a course on African Bibliography which was also particularly relevant to me at the time.  I am currently Subject Consultant for International Development, Forced Migration, African and Commonwealth Studies within the Bodleian Libraries, based at the Social Science Library.  Until 2009 I was the Librarian at the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC), my first professional post after graduating from library school.  I started there in April 1993.  I was fortunate to get this job, possibly helped by the network of people working in Africa related library environments I’d met at SOAS, UCL and Queen Elizabeth House (parent organisation of the RSC).  This was also pre-computerisation so the course gave me a strong grounding in cataloguing and bibliographical work which when combined with Africa met early requirements for the post.  My role has since evolved after the move of the RSC collections to the SSL so that I now look after more areas than just refugee studies.  I am involved in collection development, enquiry work and training.


Bodleian Library OxfordFrom Craig Finlay, currently Senior Library Assistant (Serials & IT) at the Bodleian Social Science Library, University of Oxford.


I was at University College London School of Library Archive and Information Studies (now Department of Information Studies from 2007-2009, doing their MA in Library & Information Studies degree part-time while I worked at the Social Science Library at the University of Oxford.

My main reasons for going for UCL were its location and the fact that I could study part-time, so I could carry on working in Oxford and go to London just for one day a week. I also quite liked the idea of a traditional “acaedmic” course as I was quite used to that as I’d recently finished my undergraduate degree in another quite traditional subject. I went for the MA in Library & Information studies specifically as it is CILIP-accredited so I can officially call myself “A Librarian” now (!). There was a decent amount of flexibility in terms of the modules, so I chose to do a couple of technical things like Databases structure and design, and extra cataloguing and classification, although a lot of people choose UCL because they’re good on Historical Bibliography and Manuscript Studies.

I’m now back to being Senior Library Assistant (Serials & IT), after covering maternity leave as Reader Services Librarian Oct 2013- Oct 2014. Probably the best thing I learned for my current job was how to write in HTML and how websites work because I’ve twice had to move the SSL website between different platforms and it was useful to be able to edit the code myself to make sure everything all looks right. All the stuff I learned about classification and the way ideas can be structured has also been useful, as I now know Library of Congress pretty well so can spot when something’s out of place in the library very easily. I also remember going to a lecture about Open Access way back in 2007 which was actually very similar to the stuff we tell researchers on this subject right now.

Check out what is currently going on at UCL on the UCL DIS Student Blog.


3 thoughts on “University College London

  1. I’m currently doing the DIS course at UCL. I’m currently working in a library, but want to be able to move up in my career. Most of the jobs I’ve looked at required a qualification and UCL was recommended by my current line manager. I’ve found the course tough so far since it’s been awhile since my undergrad degree and getting back into reading academic work and writing essays again. Is anyone else struggling with combining the course and a full-time job and a life (what little remains of it)?


  2. To me, I’m afraid, Library School was very much just a hoop that I had to jump through in order to progress in a career I had found that I enjoyed (probably not the best way to market it though!). I think it was because of this and the fact that I had already done an MA previously that meant that as soon as I had done all of the taught part of the course and achieved the Postgraduate Diploma that meant that I could apply for jobs that asked for a CILIP accredited qualification, I actually decided to leave at that point and didn’t do the dissertation that would have led to the full MA. Thankfully, I haven’t found that that has hampered me in any way and I do think that it was some of the taught modules that have had most relevance to the jobs I have done since.


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