I have recently completed a Libraries, Archives and Information Services Level 3 Apprenticeship. As I started my apprenticeship in late 2019, it was delivered as a Framework; however the course has recently been replaced by a Library, Information and Archive Services Assistant apprenticeship standard. Due to the change this post will focus on my experience of completing an apprenticeship, rather than the content of the course itself.

After completing my CILIP Certification I was keen to find a new CPD opportunity. I’d read about the Libraries, Archives and Information Services apprenticeship and was keen to find out more. I met with my Manager and the Trust’s Organisational Development team to find out if this opportunity would be available to me and a few weeks later I was heading to Barnsley College for my Apprenticeship Induction.

When I started my apprenticeship I had been in my current post for three years and was confident in carrying out the day-to-day tasks demanded by my role; however I knew there was more to learn.

My library experience has been gained in NHS health library setting. So completing this apprenticeship provided me with an opportunity to learn and explore the wider sector. I particularly enjoyed learning more about museums and public libraries, which I had been more familiar with from a user perspective. When I started my apprenticeship I had grand plans to arrange in-person visits to various library and archive settings. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic most of my plans didn’t come to fruition. I did however manage an in-person visit to Wakefield Libraries and made great use of the online tours offered by academic libraries (such as University of East Anglia) and museums (such as the National History Museum).

Units in the Apprenticeship such as, ‘Helping Users to Obtain Access to Information and/or Material’ encouraged me to give more thoughts to how our library users access information and how the library makes available this information. It was during my work on this unit that I came up with the suggestion to create short video guides to help users to access information such as Accessing journals using the NICE Journals A-Z.

The Employee Rights and Responsibilities (ERR) section of my apprenticeship provided me with an opportunity to learn more about Trust policies, such as the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy, and legislation which applies to library and archive settings. I have since used what I learnt here in my part developing the MY (Mid Yorkshire) Staff Library Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Collection.

From a personal perspective I feel that my apprenticeship helped me to improve my time management skills. It also helped me to gain the confidence to lead on a project, the development of the library health and wellbeing special collection.

Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic was challenging at times. My regular meetings with my Trainer became virtual, my weekly allocated OTJ hours were completed from my kitchen table and the different ways in which we found ourselves working meant that I had to wait longer than I would have liked to obtain some of the evidence I needed for my portfolio. However, it all worked out in the end and I was able to complete my apprenticeship a few weeks earlier than planned.

So what’s next? I plan to revalidate my CILIP Certification in the not-too-distant future. I’m also aware that there is discussion about developing a higher level Libraries and Archives Apprenticeship. This is something I am particularly interested in, fingers crossed!

Natasha Craigs
Library Assistant
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust