Sidney resident Lyn McCluskey celebrates her MSc graduation via distance learning from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen

Sidney resident Lyn McCluskey celebrates her MSc graduation via distance learning from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen

Never too late for education

Thirty-five years after she began her post secondary studies, Sidney resident Lyn McCluskey received her MSc in Information and Library Studies in person from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Thirty-five years after she began her post secondary studies, Sidney resident Lyn McCluskey received her MSc in Information and Library Studies in person from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland.

“I am absolutely thrilled I was able to do this — I can’t believe that after 35 years I have completed a lifelong ambition at the same institute I began studying at,” she said.

McCluskey now 52, began her studies at Robert Gordon University in 1974 (then known as Robert Gordon’s Institute of Technology). She spent two years studying Librarianship but was eager to begin a career and soon found herself working for Shell UK Exploration and Production. McCluskey spent 15 years in the corporate sector with Shell UK, and during her time there established a corporate information centre which included a library, records management, and an open learning centre.

After her time in the UK, McCluskey moved to Canada and eventually settled in Victoria. As she got older and her children moved on to post secondary education she began to reconsider further schooling herself.

“I always regretted not furthering my education and I wasn’t sure really how to start again,” McCluskey said.

At the time she was enrolled with Robert Gordon’s Institute of Technology, they were only just beginning to offer a four-year bachelor’s program, but as McCluskey was eager to begin a career, she completed the two-year diploma program instead. When she eventually decided to pursue further education a couple of years ago, McCluskey discovered though a former colleague at Royal Roads University that Robert Gordon University was offering online MSc programs in Information and Library Studies. McCluskey contacted Robert Gordon University and inquired whether or not they would accept her previous credits in Library Studies. When they replied with a yes, McCluskey’s adventure into online studies began.

“It was perfect because I knew the institution as I’d studied there previously and I knew they would be able to offer me a worthwhile program,” she said.

Soon after, she began her MSc studies and decided on her thesis topic.

Soon after she began her studies, McCluskey moved to Sidney. For her thesis work, she chose to use the Sidney branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library as an example.

“My goal was to examine how to evaluate community libraries and determine their value and how you measure that value,” McCluskey said. “I wanted to use the Sidney branch of the VIRL because it has a high volume of use and it provides so much more to the community than just somewhere to borrow books or research information. Through my thesis research, I was able to determine community libraries like the Sidney branch of the VIRL serve a very broad use. They have tons of valuable functions for the community including somewhere for people to meet and socialize, which is especially important for seniors, a place for people to connect with others who have similar interests, a place for education and information technology — the list goes on.”

When McCluskey finally finished her thesis work, she submitted it and was invited to attend her MSc graduation ceremony at Robert Gordon University.

“It worked out wonderfully because it just so happened my son was graduating with a Bachelor of Law from the University of Leeds the same week so we were able to attend both ceremonies,” McCluskey said.

With her MSc under her belt, it begged the question: what’s next?

“When I went into the library to let all the staff I know that I had finished and was graduating, the first thing they asked was if I was going to publish my thesis. I thought to myself, ‘hmmm, I could do that.’

“Then they asked if I would pursue my PhD and I thought ‘hmmm, I could do that too’,” McCluskey said with a laugh. “For now, I’m going to take six months off to relax and focus on home and work, (writing proposals for an engineering firm) and then we’ll see after that.”