I think it’s safe to say I’m not your stereotypical librarian! I don’t own a cat and I only very rarely say “shush”!
My professional life has somewhat mirrored my own academic journey. After school and university, I worked as a librarian at a primary school before moving on to a secondary school (the one I had been a student at!) and then on to an e-Learning Manager role at a sixth form. After five years there, I was made redundant alongside some of my colleagues. It wasn’t a brilliant time, but in a way I’m glad it happened; I had been craving to be a librarian again and I applied for my current role in Higher Education – so I’ve gone full circle! I’m really enjoying it and I feel libraries have moved on so much. It’s no longer just about having the most interesting book.
I think it is very sad to see so many public libraries are being side-lined and closed. A lot of the time, it is because people can’t see or don’t understand the value of a library or a librarian. Things have changed so much over the years. We’re more involved with literacy, digital literacy, academic skills, referencing and database searching – as well as all the traditional stuff.
I think we need to get familiar with libraries at a younger age and get young people reading. When I worked at a primary school as a librarian, we noticed a correlation between using the library and the reading scores improving. I worked in quite a deprived area so it wasn’t uncommon for children not to have access to books at home - that’s why the library was so important.
One of the biggest challenges is educating people to use the right resources and not always relying on Google. Digital is a massive challenge especially in a world of fake news; it can be tricky knowing what resources you can trust these days, so that’s where the Librarian comes into the picture.