Early Career Conference Awards 2016: Interview with Matthias Ammon

This is the third – and last –  in a series of interviews with each of our Early Career Conference Award (ECCA) winners for 2016. In these blog posts our winners will tell us more about why they applied for the award, and what they are looking forward to at the conference. The ECCA winners are sponsored by SLA Europe and SLA Divisions, and will be attending the 2016 SLA Conference & INFO-EXPO in Philadelphia this June.

Matthias Ammon

Why did you pursue a LIS career?

Towards the end of my PhD (in Old English language and literature), I started part-time work in a couple of libraries. I realised relatively quickly that I enjoyed helping people a lot more in a library context than by pursuing an academic career. The more I got to know about it, the more interesting it became to me – I love the variety that working in LIS involves as there is so much to learn about so many different topics, which in turn leads to a wide variety of career options. And my work allows to me use a lot of my skills and experiences (teaching, researching, writing, working with people) while always challenging me to learn new things.

Can you tell us about your career so far?

I started out working part-time in a couple of libraries: one job was in an independent school for foreign students wishing to take qualifications in order to attend university in the UK; the other was as a weekend and evening assistant in one of the faculty libraries of the University of Cambridge. When I got a permanent position as a library assistant in the Engineering library a couple of years later, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the academic aspects behind LIS and become a fully qualified librarian, so I undertook certification with CILIP (which I was awarded in July 2015) and started a distance MA in Information & Library Studies at Aberystwyth University on a part-time basis which I’m hoping to finish next year.

In addition to my day job(s), I was able to attend structured training on issues relating to research support, such as research data management, Open Access and scholarly communication. I knew that this was the area of academic librarianship that I wanted to specialise in and recently I was lucky to be offered a job doing just that as Project Coordinator in the Office of Scholarly Communication in the University Library at Cambridge. I will be starting straight after I return from Philadelphia, so that will be an exciting new challenge.

Why did you decide to apply for an ECCA with the Sci-Tech Division?

My own academic background is very much in the humanities, so working in an engineering library has been a bit of a learning curve. I have become very interested in the information behaviour of scientific researchers in particular, a topic I hope to explore in my MA dissertation. I believe there is a lot of scope for LIS support in the field, so the Sci-Tech Division seemed like a natural fit for my interests.

Becoming involved with the Sci-Tech Division will give me the opportunity to speak to other LIS professionals working in the field in order to learn from their experiences and share my own. In particular I am hoping to learn more about information support for scientific researchers outside of academia.

What are you most looking forward to about SLA 2016?

I am excited about attending SLA because I will be able to meet people I would otherwise probably not get the chance to meet. By getting the opportunity to talk to so many people in the field I am hoping to learn a lot which I can take back and apply to my own work, to get ideas for future projects and to find potential collaborators and contacts. Apart from that, I am mainly looking forward to just enjoying the whole experience.

Unfortunately I will not have much time to explore outside the conference but I hope I will get the chance to try a local craft beer or two.

Which sessions/speakers on the programme are excited most about?

I wish I could go to everything! I have narrowed my agenda down a bit but there is still overlap in pretty much every session. In light of my own interests, I am particularly looking forward to the sessions on data management and scholarly communication. I should probably also mention the master class on ‘The Librarian’s Role in Research Assessment and Highlighting Value’ as my future manager, Danny Kingsley, will be one of the presenters.