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Career history and motivations for choosing LIS: a case study at Aberystwyth University

Anoush Simon (Department of Information Studies, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, UK)
Marianne Taylor (Department of Information Studies, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, UK)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 11 October 2011



The purpose of this paper is to report on an ongoing project investigating library and information science students' perceptions of the library and information profession and their motivations for undertaking a degree in this field. The analysis presented here focuses on students' reasons for becoming involved in information work, and their motivations for embarking on a professional qualification.


The research was focused on students enrolling on Information and Library Studies programmes in the Department of Information Studies, Aberystwyth University. Students from both undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) courses are represented over the period 2005‐2010, undertaking campus‐based and distance learning (DL) programmes. A qualitative approach, using focus groups, was taken towards data collection and analysis.


Many students followed a circuitous path into the library and information field, indicating that caution needs to be exercised when making assumptions regarding “typical” library and information workers. Similarly, motivations for attaining a qualification are a complexity of both personal and professional aspirations. Although motivations remain consistent, in line with previous studies, it is argued that “either/or” attitudes to traditional and modern aspects of information work are being replaced by a flexible understanding of the modern profession.


The paper builds on and adds new perspectives to literature on student motivations and career aspirations. The groups studied are eclectic, including PG and UG, full‐time and DL cohorts across a range of age groups.



Simon, A. and Taylor, M. (2011), "Career history and motivations for choosing LIS: a case study at Aberystwyth University", Library Review, Vol. 60 No. 9, pp. 803-815.



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