So my route was pretty much planned out, although looking back I could have done things differently.
A meeting with the Careers Adviser was pretty quick, going along the lines of 'can I do a work placement in the public library?' - 'yes' - 'ok'. Done. I spent two weeks in Clevedon Library, shelving books, wandering around and reading during the lunch hours when the library would be closed, marvelling at the fines people racked up and that it was someone's job to ring people up to ask them to bring their overdues books back please.
I chose to do English Literature at Goldsmiths College, having decided already that I would apply to do a graduate traineeship after graduation.
Graduate traineeship at City UniversityThese were not the best months of my life for various reasons but I applied for and got a placement at City starting in the August after graduation. Being a trainee, I spent 6 months at the main site assisting with various Circulations work and not feeling very inspired, to be honest. I was acutely aware that the librarians got to do the fun stuff while I was there to fetch the reservations on the shelves and find dusty books in the rolling stack which smelled like...well, like all rolling stacks do. The second part of my time was at the Business Library, then located in the Barbican. My first taste of demanding Business students expecting me to know all about fundamentals, options and futures....arg!
This was also where I learned the technique of hiding books to see if anyone asked for them (my boss really did this) and where I discovered a neatly rolled up prayer mat in the stacks...
Looking back now, I could have found out about the placements which were in the libraries which were closer to my heart - maybe the National Art Library or RIBA or somewhere like that. It was only later when I got more involved with Arlis that I realised these existed - oh how the internet would have changed things for me! But no regrets. City set me up nicely to....
Start my MA in Information Studies at the University of BrightonIt was a bit of an anti-climax when at my interview they asked me a handful of questions and then told me I had a place. How easy was that? Around the same time I got a job at the University of Brighton (Falmer) as a part time Library Assistant, working about 10 hours a week I think. I left the big city with relief and excitement to move to Brighton, a town where people actually held doors open for you and to stay in a cramped damp flat opposite the pavilion with a boyfriend - living the dream!
I loved the MA, having chosen it over UCL because it seemed more modern - they actually talked about e-resources in the prospectus! I learned about classifying, creating webpages and the 'information society', a good grounding in the theoretical information world but I was fully aware that actually working would be the best way of learning more. I did a work placement at what was then SEFVA (now Screen Archive South East) and wrote my dissertation on indexing moving images. I did a bit more voluntary work for them, probably hoping they would realise I was indispensable, but they never did, and that promise of a day out on the West Pier ended when it was condemned to be unsafe...
Various jobs at Brighton and West Sussex
Meanwhile...I was continuing to work at Falmer Library, then got a job as an Assistant Information Advisor (AIA) at the Aldrich Library, supporting Business (again!) and later Architecture. I was also working at the Curriculum Centre, cataloguing educational resources, and working in Caffe Nero. All at the same time, at some points. Maybe this is just nostalgia talking, but I look back on this time fondly.
Later, I offered to work one afternoon a week at the art library, St Peter's House, and this turned into a half time post as an AIA supporting the two Information Advisers there. The rest of the time I worked as an Assistant Librarian at Worthing Library, working with the Local Studies librarian. Quite a varied job and one in which I always tried to squeeze in a bit of art library-ness - such as getting involved with distributing the Public Art in West Sussex catalogues to the 35 county libraries - but also visiting the archive at Gatwick Airport, searching microfilm and fiche for needles in haystacks, answering random family and local history enquiries and training new staff.
A full-time job
All this time, all I wanted was a full time job in an art library, really. I went for a job at De Montfort University and very nearly got it, but then was successful in an interview for a Subject Librarian at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth (now University of the Arts College Bournemouth). I sometimes think about how differently things could have turned out if I had gone to Leicester and seeing Jo Webb at a conference recently, I have no doubt I would have developed my teaching skills much more quickly. Nevertheless, AIB gave me my dream job: buying and classifying books for fashion, architecture and interior architecture, 3D design, textiles and modelmaking
The West Country came a-calling...
A difficult decision came just over a year later when I saw a job advertised at UWE, Bristol: a job supporting the Creative Arts faculty but with more responsibilities and the opportunity to really develop my skills as a manager and as an academic librarian. I got the job, left sunny Bournemouth and returned to the homeland, the West Country.
My post had been newly created due to the faculty being restructured and a new department formed, so the last couple of years have offered me the ability to focus on what I have felt important, as well as working to objectives already laid out. Changes and challenges in the campus library I am based in have guided and fleshed out my role in many ways and it is no lie to say that no one day is the same as the next. The proposed closure of my campus is providing yet more challenges and opportunities to develop my skills in time and people management while staying up to date with new technologies and supporting the Library Service's objectives. My main focus is now on teaching students information literacy skills but an awful lot of other stuff distracts me from this (both good and, let's say, 'challenging...!).
Round 5 of Library Day in the Life to follow...