Library day in the life 6


Round 6 of the Library Day in the Life project is at hand and A Lass in Libraryland prepares to share her week via the medium of blog…


A lass in libraryland arrived at work slightly later than planned (traffic logistics), upon her arrival she prepared for the day ahead in the usual manner – daily statistics, email inbox, switching on student computers, setting the date stamp and posting the weeks opening hours online, etc. She opened a word document to record all things Library Day in the Life and set to work… so far so good. It was at this point that all intentions to record the happenings of an average Monday in Libraryland went to pot.

ALIL was called into a surprise meeting and informed that her request for a salary review made in the winter term had been considered and upheld… ALIL was so flabbergasted at this surprising (but very pleasant) turn of events that she spent the remainder of the day reorganising the counter area, humming happy tunes in her head and bucking a national trend…

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday

Having totally failed to complete her blog for library day in the life, ALIL retires to a corner in shame…


Two sides of the coin


A lass in libraryland is perhaps what you would call a shrinking violet – quiet, a little shy, keeps herself to herself and likes to just get on with the job.  She is dedicated, enjoys her work and counts her Librarian blessings upon waking each morning.  ALIL finds her worth in the ‘thank you’ from a student, the smile on a staff members face or the high loan stats for a new title. This is all very laudable, but…

… a lass in libraryland has been a book pusher for over 17 years, the majority of that time working in the job of her dreams and yet she is still getting paid a salary that a modern day library graduate would turn their noses up at – even in these difficult economic times.

So why does she stay you cry? Why doesn’t she look for a better paid job elsewhere? A good question but here comes the rub – if she went somewhere else which offered a greater monetary reward she knows in her heart of hearts she would be compromising on job satisfaction. Every morning when she woke up she would ask herself why did you give up your dream job for the sake of more greenbacks?

So last week ALIL FINALLY got up the nerve to ask for a salary review (surely it is better to ask than sit stewing it over and over and over and over, wondering what the answer might be if only the chutzpah could be located to ask) – having avoided the awkward moment for so long she has picked the week before the October spending review to get bold and pop the question…

Having poured over old CILIP Gazettes, identified comparable posts, listed her new roles and responsibilities, and highlighted her professional development (flash that chartership bling), she has amassed a portfolio of persuasion (for persuasion read vainglorious pleading).

The request letter has been penned, now all a lass in libraryland has to do is find a backbone, push the dirty bundle under the management office door and hide in the stacks until 2056.

What a Moodle

vle-failWhilst the web 2.0 developments of the previous post had been gathering pace and the Netvibes approval hung in the balance a lass in libraryland had attempted to meet up with the Vice Principal to discuss VLEs. Once again this meeting took over a year to pin down, mainly due to staff changes at management level and various abortive attempts due to schedule clashes. The long planned meet up took place in July and ALIL decided to invite the marketing department who manage all things college website so we could explore all the alternatives – VLEs, student intranet, expanding the student section of the website, etc.

It became clear that anything that required use of the college servers was a no go as storage space was limited and a planned upgrade would not be online until September. The discussion of VLEs therefore centred on the cost of externally hosting the service, which in the present economic climate proved too costly. Conversation turned to developing the student section of the college website and it was decided that this was by far the most cost effective and easy to implement solution. A lass in libraryland was asked to pen and present a proposal for the learning and teaching committee the following week, asking them to support approval of the proposal at the academic board.  ALIL presented the proposal to L&T and it was wholeheartedly approved for referral to the academic board later that week, where it was approved. A working party was then finalised and development of the student section of the college website will take place over 2010/11, going live in September 2011.

About face

Netvibes-iconFor sometime now a lass in libraryland has been branding the college library and developing a 2.0 presence. The journey to this point hasn’t been straightforward and has taken longer than planned, over a year, but has successfully improved communication with users and helped increase awareness of the library beyond the four walls of the college.

The story so far: Once upon a time (Easter 2009) a lass in libraryland started exploring web 2.0 tools with the intention of utilising them to keep library users up to date with all things libraryland. She found herself unable to utilise her first port of call, Facebookdue to security restrictions on the college computers.

She therefore set up a Twitter account (unbranded) and began to keep users up to date. Despite concerted efforts to promote this development to students/staff uptake was slow and it soon became clear that her users were not very active on Twitter, however the number of external followers who seemed interested in the information ALIL was tweeting proved quite high. When the marketing manager decided to open a college Twitter account ALIL took the opportunity to come out of the corporate closet and brand her feed with the library name.

Having officially ‘come out’ and built a good number of external followers the library needed to find another way to connect with its physical users via 2.0 whilst maintaining its existing presence in the wider world. Facebook remained untouchable so a lass in libraryland explored the wonders of setting up a library blog…

After exploring the obvious blog sites and not finding quite what she wanted a lass in libraryland turned to Tumblr which she had been playing with at home. It offered easy and flexible posting,  had the feel of a live feed and could be linked to the library Twitter account – this allowed ALIL to create visually stimulating posts on Tumblr which could be simultaneously sent to the library Twitter feed without double inputting.

A lass in libraryland started to market the Tumblr URL to students and staff, adding links to the library pages of the student website and where she had previously sent out current awareness emails to students/staff she now sent emails featuring a couple of images and links to the Tumblr and Twitter URLs for further information. ALIL also added the URLs to her email signature to increase awareness. Google Analytics was utilised on the Tumblr site allowing ALIL to monitor use or non-use thereof.

In early 2010 a small miracle occurred which allowed a lass in libraryland to utilise Facebook, a small glitch with the college server/security software and the subsequent solution resulted in Facebook becoming accessible on all college computers where previously one machine in the building had had access (marketing department). With a dizzying swiftness a lass in libraryland decided to make hay while the sun shone and attempted to set up an account. Facebook however had other plans and refused to allow her to set up a personal account under the name of the library, this was particularly frustrating as following consultation with the marketing department it became clear the college Facebook page had been set up as a personal account. After ascertaining this option was no longer available ALIL took the plunge and set up a page for the library instead (in order to do this she had to set up a seperate personal account to act as an administrator for the library page). The usual marketing followed and within a few days a number of students and staff had begun to tick the ‘Like This’ button on the page.

Just as the Facebook page was taking off a lass in libraryland was greeted by the news that plans to re-block Facebook on student computers and ultimately staff machines were afoot (excepting the marketing department). Despite reasoned argument, attempted bribery, much booing and hissing it became clear that Facebook access on college computers was living on borrowed time, at least for the present. A lass in libraryland knew that students/staff would still access the service at home and on their mobile phones, so needed to find a way to update the library page from her on site computer without access to the library Facebook account.

Tumblr rode to a lass in libraryland’s rescue like a knight on a white charger – ALIL linked the library Tumblr account to the Facebook account from home and was henceforth able to simultaneously post to both Facebook and Twitter via Tumblr from her college computer.

During this period a lass in libraryland had been trying to get permission from college management to develop a Netvibes page for students – the idea being to provide a library portal of useful resources/information and realtime links to 2.0 feeds. She created an unbranded test site to demonstrate its usefulness and waited for the all clear, hoping to go live in the summer term of 2009.  It took over a year for permission to be granted but towards the end of the 2009/10 academic year a yay was finally received. After celebrating with cake a lass in libraryland finalised the Netvibes page and prepared it for launch in September 2010 – links have been created on the library pages of the student website, the URL has been added to ALIL’s email signature, the library’s Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook accounts have been utilised on the portal, a section on the portal has been added to the library handbook and a question on the portal has been added to the library induction exercise…

So a lass in libraryland can finally say that the library service and its brand lived happily ever after. The end of the 2009/10 academic year finds the service operating a nice range of 2.0 tools, the proud owner of a clear/identifiable brand and in September will unveil the library portal to all comers.

But this is not where the tale ends, whilst the above developments were gathering pace and the Netvibes approval hung in the balance a lass in libraryland was attempting to meet up with the Vice Principal to discuss VLEs. Once again this meeting took over a year to pin down and …but perhaps that is a blog for another day.

Library day in the life

51fGmKx5wfLRound 5 of the Library Day in the Life project is under way and a lass in libraryland almost missed it! Unfortunately there is little for our library explorer to blog this week as she is currently enjoying a month long annual leave fest… however she would recommend you take a peek at the blogs of other participants and see what has been happening in libraryland whilst she has had her feet up…


Our hero breakfasted with the outlaw and proceeded to the nearest stately home with said house guest, where a rather fine bread bin was spotted and plans laid to snuffle out an online bargain.


ALIL rose far earlier than is sightly during a period of annual leave and prepared house guest for mid-morning departure.  Remainder of day was spent drinking tea emersed in the joys of Maria Edgeworth’s Belinda.


Despite best laid plans involving much activity and cleaning ALIL spent the day hanging with the Scarpakittens, watching Mansfield Park followed by Howards End and catching up with the adventures of Belinda and her Lady Delacour.


Activity resumed and a lass in libraryland’s kitchen received much attention: drawers cleaned and ordered, cupboards rationalised and sorted and a shiny new bread bin given pride of place. New promotional cards for ALIL’s library website arrived from Moo, causing much excitement and handclapping. Following a rather unsavory episode involving a Scarpakitten and a dead fledgling ALIL heeded the call of Ms Portman and returned to the 1800s.


Unfortunately the call of the 1800s had refused to retreat until the early hours and ALIL awoke rather worse for wear.  In her jaded state our hero checked her work emails (annual leave sin No.1) to discover with much joy that she finally has a new assistant confirmed for September.  In celebration she closes her work email down with the promise not to peek again until the end of August and settles down with a nice cuppa and the new issue of Update.

Something old, something new

4DQQ000ZA lass in libraryland is in the process of recruiting a new assistant, the current postholder is retiring having worked in libraryland for three years.

The post has been reduced to term time only (economy, economy, economy) and totals fifteen hours a week over five weekdays.  ALIL has had to fill this post a number of times over the last decade (in various guises) having seen permanent and temporary staff come and go.

The process of receiving applications, shortlisting and interviewing is something she enjoys – she never ceases to be amazed by the wide range of people who apply and how different people are in the flesh to how she imagined them when scoring their application.

However making the final decision brings her out in a cold sweat. How so?

What if she makes the wrong decision? How can a lass really know how someone is going to pan out until the day they start? Interview score system or not you don’t always get a clear idea of how someone will be to work with or how they will interact with users in the snap shot that is the interview process.

In a larger team ALIL wouldn’t bother to break a sweat (let alone a cold one) but she knows from bitter experience that a small team (of two) is a different kettle of fish.

Oh dear me how…

…a lass in libraryland has therefore decided to go with the flow, enjoy the process and see what interview day brings… after all whoever she hires will be in the same boat, so lets at least try and leave the harbour with full sails and a gentle hand on the tiller…

Library day in the life


A Lass in Libraryland spotted the chatter about Library Day in the Life on Twitter and being reminded of a book she had as a child – “What do people do all day?” she took a closer look. A number of ALIL’s fellow Twits were giving it a go on their blogs – EdithJo and Sarah so she decided to follow their example…

A Lass in Libraryland is a Chartered Librarian working in a conservatoire HEI in the UK and today she:


    • Parked the car, popped down to the post box to post her CILIP membership renewal and was officially at work by 8.55 am
    • Arriving at the library entrance she discovered said door wide open, lights on and the learner support office door unlocked! Mmmmmm…. new cleaner perhaps
    • Our intrepid Librarian took a deep breath, switched on all the equipment and officially opened up – then proceeded to pen an email regarding cleaner’s lack of security consciousness, politely requesting the Facilities Manager point out that Librarian’s don’t spend lots of time tagging books and having security gates serviced just so the cleaner can facilitate random people wondering in on a whim and taking whatever they fancy out of hours, etc, etc… well in gentler tones to that effect
    • Entered the weekend stats in the database and followed up the multiple notes left by the weekend Student Library Assistant (SLA), wrote and printed job lists for Counter Assistant and evening SLAs
    • Cleared email in box, followed up email exchange with affiliate library regarding logistics of possible joint ebook purchases
    • Catalogued various DVDs, including a range of Imagine… episodes. Trying to trace the series/episode numbers proved difficult and frustrating for ALIL (3 different sources located, 3 different number ranges provided). BBC Imagine… website displayed no sign of the information sort…
    • Counter Assistant arrived – ALIL finished up jobs for morning
    • Lunch – chilli & rice, with a side order of beetroot. Followed by theft of a small iced cake (from an admin. staff member who loves to bake for other peoples pleasure)
    • Located replacement copy of video held in library collections which had given up the ghost – VHS 😦
    • Counter Assistant finished for the day
    • Dealt with student and staff enquires all afternoon – library nice and busy
    • Updated website
    • Chased up SLA shift confirmations for this week by email
    • Received birthday sweets from student (his not ALIL’s)
    • Entered daily stats in database (issues and items on loan will be entered in morning)
    • Brief chat with evening SLA upon her arrival
    • Drove home, sat on sofa munched stolen cake, read & listened to some very loud Purcell
    • Caught up with Twitter and spotted the Library Day in the Life project, joined in…


    • Pay day
    • 8.55 arrived at work, library door locked and secure – Hoorah!
    • Opened up, switched on computers, printers and dealt with notes left by SLAs from Monday evening
    • Input loan and issue figures into stats database for Monday
    • Helped student with VERY large hair to log onto student computers
    • Updated this weeks opening times on library door and website
    • Popped live BBC Two internet feed on computer for Murray/Nadal match at Australian Open (not officially classed as work but had to be done)
    • Placed order for three dance DVDs (2 replacements for damaged stock and 1 new title), updated budget spreadsheet and orders file accordingly
    • Checked email in box and cleared outstanding items, read CILIP International News Bulletin
    • Compiled job sheets for Counter Assistant and evening SLA
    • Catalogued/processed some dance company DVDs, input on LMS and updated paper indexes – ALIL likes this job as she gets to watch dance in work time, today’s additions included Amjad (Lock) and Silent Screen (Leon/Lightfoot)
    • Sent updated library Twitter/Tumblr poster to Learner Support Officer for her noticeboard
    • Sold a yoga block to a student – which counts as a minor miracle in ALIL’s book as the library has sold a grand total of 2 in the space of a year
    • Took group booking/reservation for Video Editing Suite – ALIL only set up the bookings and key issuing procedures at the beginning of term when the library was asked to oversee this activity, all appears to be running well so far…
    • Updated affiliate library document on electronic resources available to students and staff of the conservatoire, emailed to central office and asked for it to be added/updated to the staff area of the website
    • The ‘n’ on the catalogue keyboard stopped working mid-morning for ten minutes – not helpful when students carry out a large number of searches containing the word ‘dance’
    • Box of journal back issues missing from shelves – deputation of students and ALIL searched library high and low to no avail, it eventually reappeared as if by magic…
    • Lunch – same as yesterday… followed by a long chat about the Arts Council, local dance provision and Regional Dance Agencies with colleagues
    • More DVD cataloguing/processing after lunch
    • Put together outline of basic staff requirements post-summer 2010
    • Added details of new DVD stock to library Tumblr and Twitter feeds
    • Compiled Tuesday’s job lists for SLAs and Counter Assistant
    • Library pretty busy all afternoon so up and down to the counter between cataloguing – taking cash payments, locating resources, issuing/returning stock, issuing editing suite keys, doing a brisk business in fines, etc
    • Drove home, had a nice cup of tea and caught up on Twitter/#liblife4 and the various blogs

A Lass in Libraryland will see you all tomorrow…


    • Arrived at work for 8.55, ALIL is nothing if not predictable
    • Opened up, switched on computers and equipment and turned on security gate. Logged in LMS computers and took Tuesday’s stats and added to database. Dealt with notes from Tuesday evening’s SLA. Moved library date stamp on a day – this is the zen high point of everyday
    • Girl with big hair returned this morning, this visit she opted for a pen and paper… and eardrum bursting levels of noise on an iPod, ALIL asked her politely to turn it down
    • Checked email – read CILIP Weekly News
    • Tumblr’d/Tweeted info about an alumni dance performance on the library feeds
    • Followed the ‘Is this list working?’ discussion on LIS-WEB2@JISCMAIL.AC.UK in between working, following Twitter feeds and posting to the library Tumblr account…
    • Converted a student choreography performance from VHS to DVD and finalised on new equipment – ALIL still hasn’t had formal training so it involved some guess work, but seems to have worked (ALIL much prefers a nice laminated step-by-step instruction sheet to refer to, so much more dignified than fumbling about and hoping for the best – she makes a mental note to self to put one together once trained)
    • Tidied counter, desk and work area, talked/caught up with Learner Support Officer. Filed some dance company flyers in the Dance Company Collection and updated index
    • Chased up lecturer regarding a missing box set CD, staff member in question had lent a single CD from the set to ‘a student’ and it remained AWOL… ALIL took a deep breath and played with the date stamp during negotiations
    • New books arrive from Amazon… for ALIL not the library (naughty Librarian?)
    • The power geeks (you know who you are and we bow before your wanton IT knowledge) step in to offer possible solutions to the LIS-WEB2@JISCMAIL.AC.UK issues
    • Another student with excessively loud headphones wanders into library, this time with an unfortunate whistling habit and a big hat…
    • Catalogued a couple more DVDs, including adding an extra copy of In the spirit of Diaghilev which was shown on BBC Four in December (ERA rocks) to the collections, this was the BBC show which didn’t air the Javier de Frutos piece
    • Cat and classed books from a donation of titles received by the library a couple of years ago. A lovely collection of books reflecting the interests of a choreographer who worked in London and America and collected from pre-1930 throughout her career. The donation is rather large and ALIL is having to add items to the special collections as and when she can spare the time, but it is one of her favourite tasks
    • ALIL discussed Frog Peak Music with the resident Lecturer in Contemporary Music, FP send out lovely scores which are produced with love and care, pondered who they will pass their archives onto when they retire. Said lecturer mentioned in passing that he had been unable to locate a recording of John Cage’s Four3 on CD, ALIL volunteered to see what she could do… took five minutes to locate some marketplace sellers on Amazon that fitted the bill nicely
    • Kept eyes peeled throughout the day for news on the Apple Tablet…
    • 12.00 Counter Assistant arrives, ALIL finishes off morning jobs
    • Lunch – Yakisoba a la canteen, followed by an interesting discussion about modern choreography with faculty members
    • Post-lunch surge of enquiries saw ALIL researching clips of site-specific dance pieces on YouTube and the wider web for a choreography session next week, which will be held in the library
    • Counter Assistant left for day at 15.00
    • The latest copies of Dance Europe and Dancing Times arrived and where logged in, entered onto the LMS, etc. ALIL then catalogued Dance Europe to article level on the LMS as it remains stoically un-indexed elsewhere. Tumblr/Twitter updated accordingly
    • Very busy afternoon dealing with student enquiries, ALIL managed a vicious clear out of her email inbox in between mayhems. Dealt with a particularly nasty chair bomb, which Degree One let off as they fled the library for their next class at 16.30
    • ALIL passed over the reins to the evening SLA at 17.00 and wended her way home to a cup of tea and a sit down

There will be more task by task action in Libraryland on the morrow…


    • ALIL arrived at work for 8.53 and proceeded to open up, exercised her one moment of zen clarity and prepared for the day (yes she did open the BBC Two live streaming of the tennis but that doesn’t make her a bad person)
    • Very quiet first thing with only one contemporary class on timetable to allow for student progress review meetings, students taking the rare opportunity of a midday start to have a lie in
    • Located jobs for Counter Assistant and compiled jobs sheets for the day
    • Assigned SLA library shifts for w/c 01 February and emailed to students for confirmation
    • Updated some reader records and cleared email inbox
    • Sorted out wide screen TV/DVD wireless headphone connections with Facilities Manager and Caretaker – took three people 20 minutes to figure out it already worked, simply needed the sound on the television turned down to activate the headphones… oops! Popped Murray match on the big screen for the students (with no sound) in celebration…
    • Unfortunately had to politely decline a request to pen missive for affiliate annual review, just too busy to fit it in, ALIL was disappointed as she hates to say no and rather enjoys putting finger to keyboard for the greater good. Compromised/softened the no by forwarding a previous missive which should be useable with a bit of editing… (ALIL finds herself wishing she had 987 pairs of hands)
    • Catalogued new music scores, DVDs and some dance journals, in between dealing with student queries – scanning photos, re-setting Athens passwords, grammar advice, computer profile issues…
    • Lunch – Pizza!
    • Responded to email from JISC Collections
    • Demonstrated the wonders of Athens and IBTD with Full Text to a post graduate student – they left a happy bunny, wide eyed at the wonders of free electronic resources!
    • Said post graduate student was researching why there appear to be so many dyslexic students in dance and the arts, after Athens demonstration referred student onto the Learner Support Officer (LSO) for an additional chat. A meaty topic and interestingly the LSO later told ALIL there hasn’t been a large amount of formal research done in this area, something our LSO would very much like to do if she had some time and funding
    • Finished up for the day and handed over to the SLA at 17.00, then home to a cup of tea (there goes ALIL being all predictable again)…

A Lass in Libraryland will be back with the final instalment of her working week in the morning…


    • A Lass in Libraryland was in for 8.50, opened up, switched everything on… you know the drill
    • Rebuilt LMS indexes, ran verify/fix data and find/fix corruptions commands and backed up system
    • Put together job lists for Counter Assistant and the weekend SLA, went through SLA notes from Thursday evening, checked email and settled in for the day
    • Priced and sourced purchase requests and sent to library purchase approval members (members are ALIL and academic department heads)
    • Assisted Degree Three student to create major project programme note – OHP and colour copies make for Blue Peter moment in Libraryland
    • 10.30 ALIL was meant to complete training on the VHS/DVD transfer equipment, but the caretaker was a no show, so ALIL decided to catalogue some DVDs and donated books instead… will she never get her paws on that laminated instruction sheet?
    • Much anticipated personal copy of Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta delivered by FedEX (other couriers are available) to ALIL and she has to sit on her hands to resist opening it before home time
    • Busy morning with students looking for music for choreography, so up and down to CD collection making suggestions and identifying what different students were after
    • 12.00 Counter Assistant arrived, ALIL finished off morning tasks
    • Lunch – Lasagne and beetroot
    • ALIL spent the afternoon assisting students and when the opportunity arose researching DVD purchases to update the library collections
    • 15.00 Counter Assistant finished for the week
    • Added items to the college archive, amended file level descriptions and LMS catalogue records accordingly
    • 16.45 gave library users a 15 minute call before closing time, proceeded to tidy library and begin the closing up procedure

At 17.00 A Lass in Libraryland switched off the lights and locked the library door, wondering to herself what next week will bring…

A babe in the wood

A Lass in Libraryland thinks it is probably time to review her experiences in the world know as 2.0 and how their use has affected her work-a-day world.

120px-Aiga_toiletsq_women_inv_svgALIL originally intended to do a bit of professional tweeting (finally being encouraged into action as a result of an article by Phil Bradley in the April ’09 issue of Update), the initial wish simply to make contact with other library professionals hanging out in the libraryland cloud.  However, having taken those first few steps into the Twitterverse ALIL was propelled headfirst into the wider world of web 2.0.

Since ALIL started this blog back in March 2009 she has found herself exploring and getting to grips with a number of 2.0 tools, almost a year has passed and she finds herself with two online identities, two blogs, two domain names, an iphone, apps, contributing to wikis, three Twitter accounts, a Netvibes page, a Tumblr page, need we go on?

So the question we must ask is has ALIL found her wonderings in 2.0 world useful? And have they altered the way she works?

The simple answers are yes and yes!  From being a simple Tweeter ALIL has become much more confident with the tools that are out there and is not scared to try out new ones.  On both a personal and professional level she is finding many uses for the 2.0 tools which she has stumbled across and is finding that they are altering the way she works on a daily basis.  Her library users are much more informed and her ability to communicate with them is faster and much more interactive.

To be blunt A Lass in Libraryland can’t remember what life and work were like before that fateful day back in March when she first dipped her toe into the pool known as 2.0… little did she know it would turn out to be an ocean!


emptyheadA lass in libraryland is having problems deciding what to blog about next, her mind has apparently gone blank.  The students have finished for the year and most of the academic staff have waltzed off on their festive break, the building is deserted and company scarce… you would think now would be the time to put finger to keyboard and wax lyrical.  Apparently not…

Library roots/routes

RootsRoutes bw shutterstockA lass in libraryland thought that it was about time she added her two-penneth worth to the Library Routes Project which was started by Ned Potter in October 2009.  The idea of the project is “…to bring together the thoughts and experiences of information professionals on how they got where they are today, and why they chose to work in libraries at all…”.


Having been plucked from the bosom of Northumbria at a young age and thrust against her will into a childhood in the south, ALIL found relief from the horrors of being a ‘northerner’ in a southern land where she could.  The world of books proved a wonderful escape and so a lifelong love of the written word began. Despite dabbling with ballet, the violin and the piano as a child (and lapsing in them all) ALIL always came back to books and remembers the local library as a nice place to be.

During secondary education, which is not a time ALIL will remember with fondness, she discovered a love of history and theatre studies managing to drag herself through her school years with their help.  Difficulties arose when her two primary A’level choices clashed on the timetable and a hard choice had to be made.  History was sacrificed for theatre and sociology and design where settled on to make up the numbers.

Not going to university was never an option and so ALIL began to mull over her HE options post-school… she pondered the wonders of studying theatre or stage management, speech therapy or something to do with books.

ALIL can thank Mrs Thatcher for not being able to follow the theatre route, the country was in a bit of a state and unemployment was on the rise – it just wasn’t practical to run up student debts training for a career path where employment opportunities would be especially limited upon graduation and competition fierce.  Speech therapy just didn’t fit (for more reasons than ALIL knew at the time) and so something with books became the name of the game.

So after speaking to the school Librarian ALIL filled in her PCAS/UCCA forms for Librarianship courses and was offered a place at Leeds Polytechnic, School of Librarianship.


Despite applying to study for a degree in Librarianship to ALIL’s (temporary) horror the course title was altered prior to her commencing her studies… come September she found herself studying on the new Information Studies course at the School of Library and Information Studies.  Although she would have liked to spend all of her course studying the more traditional skills of Librarianship the additional information/IT based modules proved useful and ultimately stood her in good stead once out in libraryland.

By far the most useful part of her three years at library school was ALIL’s placement at theBritish University Film and Video Council (BUFVC), which was then housed in a sweltering office in Greek Street, London. ALIL spend a wonderful few weeks working with a really lovely bunch of people (e.g. Jim BallantyneMarilyn Sarmiento, Murray Weston and Cathy Grant), was involved in compiling her first index for their journal Viewfinder(which was ultimately published), working in enquiries (great fun and very rewarding) and updating a card catalogue of TV listings. This placement opened ALIL’s eyes to the many rewards of information work and allowed her to witness firsthand a caring, helpful service at its best.

The freshly qualified ALIL spent some uncomfortable months signing on and working in the voluntary sector before she finally landed her first post – three hours a week as Assistant Librarian in an FE college.  This three hours eventually led to additional temporary hours working at one of the college’s satellite sites, where she was involved in building up the library service and relocating it to a windowless but newly refurbished basement library and IT suite. She also found herself landing an additional twenty hours a week at another specialist FE college.

First job/s landed ALIL proceeded to pick up and build on her newly acquired skills – there was progress and there where moments of despair – the joys of juggling part-time posts whilst seeking ones niche can not be underestimated.  Despite learning a lot in the FE sector ALIL knew that it was not where her heart lay – she found herself hankering for the arts/humanities and a service with the feel of the BUFVC.

Then out of the blue ALIL stumbled upon that elusive job with her ‘name written all over it’ in an HEI specialising in the arts.  The application was completed, interview attended and as a result ALIL found herself the proud and slightly overwhelmed solo owner of a small and far from perfectly formed specialist service in the HE sector.  The post was part time and after some negotiation with one of her other employers a forty hour working week split between the two posts began.

After a number of months working a forty hour week, sacrificing lunchbreaks and just not having enough hours in the day ALIL decided to give up the job in FE and rent out a room in her house to make ends meet.  This proved to be the best decision she ever made, finally she was able to put all her efforts into her new HE job and after a few months her post was made full time.

Twelve years on and ALIL is a full time, chartered, solo Librarian in an established conservatoire library service and can’t imagine working anywhere else but libraryland…