There’s only 3 weeks of teaching left on my Librarianship Postgraduate diploma course. I thought I’d give a quick update and review of the two modules I’ve been studying this semester; Business Intelligence and Archives and Records Management.
I’ve really struggled with this module for a few different reasons. The main reason is it might just come down to me. I picked Business Intelligence because it’s an area I’ve thought about going into. Researching, compiling information, analysing, collating, reporting = all things I think I like. However, I really haven’t enjoyed the majority of this module and I still can’t quite work out if it’s me or the module. Would I still suit a job in this area, but I just haven’t been great at it in an academic setting? Or is this an area I really should strike off my list because I’d hate it and be terrible at it? I can’t tell.
We’ve covered a different area or bit of software each week (Nexis, FAME, Information visualisation, Competitive Intelligence, Mintel, Tableau, etc.), but it’s all felt really separate and disjointed. I haven’t been able to piece together in my head a flow for this module or how everything relates to one another. I also think there’s been a huge lack of explaining WHY something we’re using is important. I’m very much a WHY person and I find it really hard to care about something if I don’t understand WHY we’re doing or using it.
I’ve also found it really hard spending brief amounts of time using sites like Mintel and FAME in class and now trying to use these for my Company Report assignment. I spent the past weekend googling terms like ‘Net’ and ‘Gross’, ‘Cost of Sales’ and ‘Profit (Loss) before taxation’. I’ve never done any kind of Business or Finance subject before so all these terms and figures and numbers were making my head spin. And because I was using annual reports, figures from different providers, and a lot of information from different areas, which all seem to use different terminology or focus on a specific piece of financial information, I don’t have the skills to figure out how or even if these can marry up. I spent waaaaay too long trying to work out why the stats in a company’s annual report were different to those on Mintel. I couldn’t work it out and can only perhaps guess their reporting periods are different? Or the collection of financial information went on at different times? Or they’ve used a slightly different break down of figures? Like I said it makes my head spin.
Other things I haven’t enjoyed so much on this module:
– The module’s felt a bit childish at times. We spent a few weeks looking at sweet and chocolate companies, which I know are as relevant as any other company, but it would have been nice to look at a bigger variety of companies. One of our homework pieces was to take a picture of a supermarket’s shelf of chocolate, then eat some chocolate. I know this was meant to familiarise all of the students with chocolate products in the UK and because a lot of the business information we can access is predominantly UK and to make it ‘fun’… but I did just let out a long sigh and thought ‘Am I really on a Masters course?’
– If I have to do one more Kahoot quiz I’ll die.
– I didn’t realise before I signed up to this module that it takes a ‘flipped classroom’ learning approach. Basically we watch a pre-recorded lecture at home on the topic for the week then come in to our 1hr 20min practical session on campus. I’ve said before about my pet peeve for pre-recorded lectures and honestly I’ve found most of them pretty un-engaging (again this might just be me, or it could be the module).
– I wish I’d known how big this module was going to be in terms of student numbers. There’s approx. 300 students on this module. We’re split into two groups and attend different timed sessions in this giant computer room portakabin. So when you’re doing work in the practical session and there’s roughly 150 of you it’s kind of hard to a) have discussions and b) check that the work you’ve done in class is even right. I will admit I’ve left sessions early because I’ve either completed the work quickly and don’t see the point sitting around waiting for the lecture to end or at times there’s been group work, which I don’t think works in that environment, so I’ve just got up and left.
Maybe I just made a bad decision picking this module, but it’s frustrating. I’ve spent my money (my own actual money as I’ve been paying in instalments this year) and my time doing this. I’m only going to do a librarianship qualification once (thank god) so it’s not like this opportunity is going to happen again. I could have picked something else that a) I liked and b) I would have been good at. Also, as with practically all education, there’s very little time to learn, practice, fail. I’ve been really worried I’m going to mess up this company report assignment, which is worth 70% of the module grade. I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t quite understand it or how to do it and I am panicking about it. There isn’t really room to fail is there? You just have to come in, do something you’ve never done before AND be good at it.
Archives and Records Management
So despite having one paid position in an archive previously and having worked alongside and volunteered in a number of archives I haven’t really liked this module either. I heard rumours that the lecturer who used to run this module has left, but it’s still being continued. I honestly feel like even if you LOVE the sound of a module or REALLY want to do it if the person who made it left maybe it should be cancelled? I say this having taken Islamic Art and Architecture in the first year of my BA and the lecturer who had created this module had left. We got a different lecturer who literally presented us material off Wikipedia (word for word!) Now if I can’t use Wikipedia in my work neither can you. It was a really disappointing module delivered with zero passion. Archives hasn’t been that level of bad, but it hasn’t been great and I really thought we might have interesting class discussions and I’d learn new things. I haven’t learnt anything new, which has been disappointing and there’s not been a load of discussions.
Other issues with this module:
– All of our speakers (so far) have been white men – and as someone who’s worked and volunteered in a lot of archives, not so much records management, there’s a lot of women in this sector! Where are these guest speakers? And also content from all the interesting archives that exist?
– The majority of the content has focused on records management, which hasn’t been the most riveting subject.
– Maybe this module needs a disclaimer e.g. ‘If you’ve worked/volunteered in archives at all you probably don’t need this module.’
So again here’s me making another bad decision and losing time and money that could have been spent on different modules. I keep asking myself why didn’t I change sooner? You have to decide to change a module during the first 2 weeks I think it is and I didn’t really see a problem at the start. As much as a lot of people who know me will definitely call me a pessimist there’s always this strange part of me, that usually ends up annoying me rather than anyone else, where I’ll be super optimistic about something. ‘Oh you’re just being too quick to judge, you’re being too picky, X will bet better’ the little part of my brain that thinks that probably looks like Joy from Inside Out.
All in all a bit of a disappointing and anticlimactic end to my 2 year, part time, Postgraduate Diploma in Librarianship. I’ve got two essays due for Archives (one on community archives – I had to change my idea as I was initially going to look at a collection at Sheffield Hallam archives – and one on an archive of my choice) and this company report for Business Intelligence. I don’t feel particularly interested or passionate about any of my final hand ins, which always makes completing work harder (I think) if you couldn’t give a damn about it other than needing to pass.
Lets all hope I pass (please, please, please) then I can be done with this course and finally be a “qualified” librarian.