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…


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…


Question… what is the last thing you would expect a Librarian to say they were?


An alien, axe wielding, maniacal, book burning fool or…. a dyslexic?

How the hell does someone with dyslexia end up as a Librarian and at what point is that even a good idea? These are questions a lass in Libraryland has pondered on numerous occasions, her conclusion… sometimes it would be easier to wield an axe. To be fair it should be noted that ALIL was until a few years ago completely ignorant of her so called affliction, she had dragged herself through the educational system and managed to bag herself a degree in Librarianship, so far so good. First job landed she proceeded to pick up and build on her newly acquired skills, there was progress and there where moments of despair (the joys of juggling three part-time posts whilst seeking ones niche can not be underestimated). After the usual casting around, attending interviews and deciding on which direction to go she located that elusive job with her ‘name written all over it’.

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 mini end of HE that is.

It was during this period that ALIL began to develop a sense of her professional identity and whilst this part of her grew she couldn’t help but feel something wasn’t how it should be… some days she felt as if she was wading waist deep in treacle and yet no matter where she looked she couldn’t finger the cause. The one constant was the fulfilment and pleasure she experienced as she developed and tweaked her new service. Despite the treacle she found herself thriving in an autonomous environment, able to make progress and see the positive changes she could bring to her corner of Libraryland.

Having been qualified for some years ALIL decided it was time to bite the bullet that is chartership and began to gather together the glut of paper evidence required for the task. However, no matter how hard she tried she just could not get the report element written, edited and finished. In frustration she set things to one side and pretended to do something else for a while.

During this ‘doing something else’ period ALIL was due to attend a training session with a number of other support staff. This offered her a chance to learn something about assistive technologies for DSA students and add to her chartership training bundle. The training looked really interesting and when the day of the session dawned ALIL was prepared to soak up new information and skills like a sponge… so much for best laid plans.

In the true style of any good cliché hindsight allows ALIL to see that the appalling trainer who came to deliver the course was actually a blessing in disguise. The poor teaching skills or lack there of and the subject being covered resulted in a blinding revelation… the ultimate conclusion of which was a discussion with the resident student support officer and an appointment to be tested for dyslexia.

In a surprisingly short time ALIL found herself the proud owner of a diagnosis, she was indeed a thirty something, dyslexic Librarian. Cor lummy how the hell did that get missed?

The relief was palpable and having identified the issue ALIL pushed through the pain barrier and finished her chartership report, submitted and gained her MCLIP status.

Everyday ALIL wishes she wasn’t dyslexic, her life and work would be so much easier if she could retain information for longer than 3 seconds. She often ponders how much better it would have been to be gifted a photographic memory, but them’s the breaks and frankly her relief at identifying the issue and purchasing the correct orange, blow up armbands to keep her head above… well treacle… has proved surprisingly liberating.Would ALIL have been encouraged to qualify as a Librarian had she or anyone else known she was dyslexic (careers advisors, teachers, etc)? ALIL somehow doubts it and is therefore glad it got missed… after all the thought of doing anything else for a living leaves her quite cold.The moral of this tale… don’t ask a lass in Libraryland how to spell antidisestablishmentarian when she is up to her eyeballs in treacle, no fair!