I first started working in academic libraries in 2002, when I was employed as an Information Assistant at our very own City University Library. I didn’t have a degree at the time (having burst out of college with the kind of energy and naive optimism that’s reserved only for nineteen year olds); and I wouldn’t have one today had it not been for a very encouraging line manager who convinced me to apply to The Open University.
I studied with them as a distance learner for six years, working through my lunch hours and during the long commute on the number 56 bus. During this time I worked my way up from Information Assistant to Team Leader in User Services and, a couple of years after gaining my degree, I was promoted to the role of Site Librarian, managing the School of Health Sciences Library in West Smithfield.
I still didn’t have a professional qualification and, to be honest, the more experience I gained, the less convinced I became that a piece of paper would prove anything that I couldn’t already demonstrate through the successful running of the Library.
However, times changed, and with the closure of the West Smithfield site on the horizon I began thinking about the future. I knew that securing a similar role elsewhere would depend not only on a wealth of experience but on that pesky – and by now compulsory – piece of paper.
I therefore decided to apply for funding to undertake the MSc in Library Science and was incredibly grateful to be accepted. The course opened my eyes and proved my previous assumptions wrong. Were it not for the course I wouldn’t have built the technical skills to manage information, learned about the Serials Crisis or developed my knowledge on libraries from a historical perspective.
More broadly the course gave me the opportunity to once again balance the demands of work and study and to meet others with similar interests – many of whom I still see now at training sessions and conferences.
I took voluntary redundancy when West Smithfield closed in 2014 and I’m now employed as Assistant Manager of Cavendish and Regent Libraries at The University of Westminster – a role I wouldn’t have got without the master’s degree.
My day-to-day work is wide and varied and I’m responsible for a range of areas from overseeing the work of the frontline team to managing improvement and refurbishment works. I’m currently leading on the development of a marketing and communications strategy and was recently involved in a project that encouraged students to come up with innovative ideas about how we can improve the Service.
I’m very much a ‘people person’ and enjoy working closely with a range of personalities, both within the Library and the wider University community. I also enjoy undertaking creative work and have had a number of opportunities to do this in both my current and previous roles.
I continue to feel the same level of enthusiasm that I felt for libraries when I joined City back in 2002. I don’t know what the future holds but marketing and the user experience are where my passion lies and hope these will continue to form a part of my career path.
For now, I’m busy focusing on organising an advocacy event for the frontline team across all library sites and I’m making plans for summer projects. I’ll never forget my experience at City University Library or on the #citylis course and I have both to thank for helping me get to where I am today.
#citylis recently hosted the #HASLibCamp Unconference – for reviews of this event, see the HASlibcamp website.