A librarian’s love for the community
Passionate about books, Abigail Willemse had never considered a career in libraries until her last year in school.
As the Open Polytechnic offers library qualifications at an undergraduate level, the distance learning specialist was the obvious choice for Abigail, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Humanities, Information and Library Studies) in 2014.
Based in Auckland and working as an Information Specialist at Counties Manukau Health Library at Middlemore Hospital, Abigail says the flexibility of distance learning enabled her to have the best of both worlds.
“The benefits of study have been getting a recognised qualification in my chosen career, and gaining the practical knowledge and skills for my work. My studies have also given me confidence that I am an information professional who provides value to my workplace,” she says, adding that she was able to practically apply what she was learning to the work she was doing.
“I’ve had a number of roles in libraries both during and after my study. The skills I gained through my degree, particularly the searching and reference interview skills, have been of great benefit for my roles up to this point.”
Abigail says that the flexibility of distance learning was one of the significant benefits of studying with the Open Polytechnic.
“I could study whenever I wanted and fit it in around part-time and full-time work. Being home-schooled all my life, I was quite used to self-directed study and the easy-to-use materials from the Open Polytechnic and the style of study really suited the way I learned,” she says, adding that steadily working towards her degree and achieving diplomas along the way helped her when looking for a job in the industry.
“It was far easier to job hunt and say that I had completed the Level 5 diploma in Library and Information Studies, rather than say I was one third of the way through my studies. I had planned it that way. For me, as a young person, I was keen to get through my degree as soon as possible, so studying full-time and doing summer school one year helped me to achieve that goal.”
Abigail is now considering further study in an alternative, but complementary area to the study she has completed.
“I think this would be most valuable for helping me become a well-rounded information professional. I completed the Certificate in Adult Training earlier this year through my workplace, and found the teaching and education skills I gained were a great benefit to my work. Other areas I am interested in are IT, marketing and communication, and online education.”
Abigail’s advice to those considering study is to go for it and to look for help if needed. “Take it a step at a time - it’s well worth it and you can do it!”
I could study whenever I wanted and fit it in around part-time and full-time work.