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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Thank you

We came to the end of the 23 Llyfrgellydd posts a few weeks ago, and now seems like a good time to reflect on all the wonderful contributions from everyone involved.


I just want to express my gratitude to all those who wrote entries, it’s made for fascinating reading and I’ve so enjoyed getting the opportunity to share your stories with the rest of the library community. And I’d also like to thank all those who supported the blog, particularly all of you who were reading it each week. I know that many more people wanted to be involved, but for various reasons were then unable, however everyone has been so overwhelmingly encouraging in their support.

Although the project is now closed, the blog will remain available so all the stories will still be there for you to re-read at your leisure. Both the 23 Librarians Northern Ireland and the 23 Librarians England blogs are still active and will continue to post entries. Also the original 23 Librarians Scotland blog will continue to post occasional entries when available.

And, perhaps we will get to run ours for a second time in the future, but for now a massive diolch yn fawr to you all.

Friday, 27 March 2015

23b - Shân Jones, National Library of Wales

This post is in Welsh, please scroll down for the English version.



Pam dewis llyfrgellyddiaeth?
Doedd gen i ddim syniad pa beth oeddwn am wneud ar ol gorffen f’addysg. Roedd fy mrawd a chwaer â’i bryd ar ffermio gyda’m rhieni, ond nid oedd hynny’n apelio ataf. Trwy hap a damwain cefais wahoddiad i ddiwrnod agored yng Ngholeg Llyfrgellwyr Cymru (CLW) tra’n Mhrifysgol Aberystwyth – a darganfod maes oedd yn apelio. Wedi graddio mewn Cymraeg ac Astudiaethau Crefyddol, dyma ddilyn cwrs Diploma i Raddedigion mewn Llyfrgellyddiaeth trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg yn CLW.

Beth ddysgais ar y daith?
Paid a bod ofn, gwirfoddola, a chymryd rhan. Annogwyd fi gan fy rheolwr cyntaf i ymuno â phwyllgor un o grwpiau arbennig CI LIP - felly ymunais â 2 ohonynt, WYLG ac AAL Gogledd Cymru (sy’ bellach yn CDG Cymru). Roeddwn yn llyfrgellydd ysgol yn Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi ar y pryd. Dysgais lawer drwy f’ymwneud â’r grwpiau hyn - sut i drefnu hyfforddiant, cymryd cofnodion cryno, cadeirio cyfarfodydd, rhyngweithio proffesiynol - a gwnes lu o ffrindiau a chael cyfleodd i ymweld â llyfrgelloedd eraill. Bûm yn cynrychioli’r WYLG ar bwyllgor gwaith WLA, (Cymdeithas Llyfrgelloedd Cymru sy’n CILIP Cymru nawr) a thrwy hynny, cael cyfle i ryngweithio â llyfrgellwyr o wahanol sectorau ynghyd â dysgu am faterion oedd yn ymwneud â llyfrgellyddiaeth.


Achub ar gyfleoedd. Roedd CILIP yn cynnig grantiau i aelodau nad oedd erioed wedi bod i gynhadledd IFLA o’r blaen, felly rhois gais amdani ynghyd â’m gŵr oedd yn gweithio mewn awdurdod arall. Roedd Cynhadledd IFLA 2002 yn Glasgow, a bu’r ddau ohonom yn ddigon lwcus i fod yn llwyddiannus yn ein ceisiadau. Cwta tri mis cyn y gynhadledd, mi wnaethom newid ein swyddi a symud tŷ! Gadawsom lyfrgelloedd cyhoeddus Gogledd Cymru a mynd i weithio i Lyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru. Er hynny fe aethom i IFLA yn Glasgow gan gynrychioli LlGC yno. Dyna beth oedd profiad - cynhadledd enfawr, cwrdd â llyfrgellwyr o draws y byd, clywed am y sialensiau sy’n eu hwynebu a rhannu profiadau.

‘Da chi byth yn rhy hen i ddysgu! Daliwch ati i ddysgu a datblygu eich sgiliau - gan ddysgu o’ch camgymeriadau wrth gwrs! Wedi i mi gynhwyso’n Siartredig (MClip bellach) bûm yn fentor i ddysgwyr gydol oes gyda Gwasanaeth Llyfrgell Gwynedd tra’n Llyfrgellydd Bro’n Blaenau Ffestiniog. Nes mlaen dilynais gwrs ECDL gyda Phrifysgol Bangor i wella fy sgiliau TG. Mi gymhwysais fel Asesydd NVQ tra’n LlGC drwy gwrs dysgu o hirbell gyda Choleg Llandrillo. Yn fwy diweddar, rwyf wedi cwblhau cwrs ILM (Institute Leadership Management). Mae’r cyrsiau hyn wedi fy ngalluogi i ddatblygu fy ngyrfa yn ogystal â chynorthwyo eraill, boed yn ddefnyddwyr llyfrgell neu gyd-weithwyr, ple bynnag y bûm yn gweithio.


Cydweithio. Gweithiwch gydag eraill, gan fod yn barod i rannu a thrafod syniadau, gwrando a chyfrannu! Pan oeddwn yn Llyfrgellydd Bro’m Mangor bûm yn un o’r rhai wnaeth sefydlu Gŵyl Gwlt Bangor mewn cydweithrediad â Phrifysgol Bangor, Swyddog Hybu Llenyddiaeth Gwynedd a Theatr Gwynedd. Roeddwn hefyd un un o’r rhai wnaeth greu ‘Linc y Gogledd’, cynllun benthyca  rhwng llyfrgelloedd cyhoeddus, addysg uwch ac addysg bellach yng Ngogledd Cymru.

Byddwch yn hyblyg ac yn barod i fentro! Roedd hi’n naid go fawr i adael llyfrgelloedd llywodraeth leol (llyfrgelloedd ysgol a chyhoeddus) am swydd tymor byr yn LlGC, ond roeddwn yn barod am sialens newydd ac antur! Catalogio casgliad aml-gyfrwng oedd fy swydd gyntaf yno, lle dysgais am ‘rinweddau’ MARC21 ac AACR2. Bûm wedyn yn swyddog prosiect LlGC ar strategaeth CyMAL ‘@ eich llyfrgell chi’. Rwyf bellach yn Bennaeth Uned Adnau Cyfreithiol Di-Gymraeg, ac yn gyfrifol am arwain tîm gweithgar sy’n prosesu’r adnoddau adnau cyfreithiol sy’n cyrraedd y Llyfrgell yn wythnosol (77,000 o fonograffau a 57,000 o gyfnodolion llynedd). Mae bywyd fel un o chwe llyfrgell adnau statudol Prydain ac Iwerddon yn ein cadw’n brysur dros ben!


Yn olaf…
‘Da chi’n cwrdd â bob math o bobl mewn llyfrgelloedd… dyna le gwrddais â’m gwr!



How did I get to be where I am today?
Serendipity! I didn’t have a set career path to become a librarian. I received an invitation by mistake (my name, Shân Jones, is not exactly unique!) to a CLW (College of Librarianship Wales) open day whilst at Aberystwyth University. My curiosity was piqued and I did a post-graduate Dip. Lib. course there after graduating.

What have I learnt along the way?
Get involved, participate and don’t be scared! My first boss actively encouraged me to become a committee member of a CILIP special interest group – so I joined 2, WYLG (Welsh Youth Libraries Group) and AAL North Wales (now the Career Development Group Wales). I was school librarian at Holyhead Secondary School back then. Through becoming involved, I learnt many skills – how to arrange events, take concise minutes, chairing meetings, professional networking – and I also made new friends and had opportunities to visit different libraries. By representing WYLG on the WLA committee (Welsh Library Association - later CILIP Cymru), I networked with librarians from different sectors and learnt about the many issues that affect librarianship.


Make the most of opportunities that come your way. IFLA 2002 was in Glasgow and CILIP were offering grants to first-timers, so my husband and I applied, and were fortunate enough to be two of the successful applicants. Three months before the event we both changed jobs and left the public library sector for The National Library of Wales. We attend IFLA, representing NLW, and staged their exhibition at the event. What an experience – it gave us a glimpse of the challenges librarians face in different circumstances internationally, sharing our knowledge and experiences.

Don’t stop learning. Continue to develop your skills – and learn from any mistakes! After completing my Chartership (now MClip) I become a mentor for distance learners with Gwynedd Library Service whilst a Community Librarian at Blaenau Ffestiniog. I later completed an ECDL course through Bangor University and qualified as an NVQ Assessor at NLW via distance learning with Coleg Llandrillo. I have recently completed an ILM (Institute Leadership Management) course. All of these courses have enable me to develop my career as well as assist others, both library users and colleagues, wherever I’ve worked.


Cooperate. Work with others, discuss and share ideas, listen and contribute! Whilst Community Librarian at Bangor Library I was involved with establishing ‘Gŵyl Gwlt Bangor’ (Bangor Cult Festival) in partnership with Bangor University, Gwynedd Literature Promotion Officer and Theatr Gwynedd. I was also involved in establishing ‘Linc y Gogledd’, a reciprocal borrowing scheme between HE, FE and public libraries in North Wales.

Be flexible and be prepared to take risks! Leaving the comfort of 19 years in the public library sector for a short term contract at NLW was a risk, but I was ready for a new challenge and adventure! My first job was cataloguing a multi-media collection - that’s when I learnt the ‘virtues’ of MARC21 and AACR2. I was then NLW’s ‘@ your library’ Project Officer. I’m currently Head of Non-Welsh Legal Deposit Unit there. My responsibilities include managing a dedicated and hard-working team who process our intake of non-Welsh legal deposit materials on a weekly basis (that’s 77,000 monographs and 57,000 journals last year). Being one of the six legal deposit libraries in the UK and Ireland certainly keeps us busy!


Finally…
You meet all kinds of people in libraries… it’s where I met my husband!

23a - Rachael Whitfield, WHELF

This week we hear from Rachael Whitfield the Development Officer for WHELF (Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum).

WHELF is a grouping of the Chief Librarians and Directors of Information Services drawn from all the higher education institutions in Wales along with the National Library of Wales and the Open University. WHELF’s mission is to promote library and information services co-operation, to encourage the exchange of ideas, provide a forum for mutual support and to help facilitate new initiatives in library and information service provision. My role as the Development Officer is to support WHELF in this work. I took over this role in October 2013 and I work part-time; a day and half from home and one day at Swansea University. I organize the WHELF quarterly meetings; we meet twice by videoconference and the other two occasions are residential meetings taking place over two days.


There is always a very full agenda and discussion to work through at the meetings. The speed of change and simultaneous development within HE libraries seems to me to be more rapid than ever and librarianship is challenging in these economic times, so collaboration and support is more important than ever. I have joined WHELF at an exciting time of course, as many years of hard work have culminated in the procurement of a shared LMS for the consortium of HE libraries, the NLW and the NHS Libraries in Wales and the first institutions have started the implementation process to go live later in the year.

Like many of the librarians who have blogged here as part of 23 Llyfrgellydd my job has a great deal of variety and I don’t really have a typical day, which is part of what makes the job so enjoyable. Naturally, there are always core tasks to deal with;  plenty of email to work through and respond to and the WHELF website and Twitter feed to keep up to date. I help support WHELF in fulfilling the aims of the annual Action Plan, follow up on action points from the WHELF meetings and any tasks delegated to me. I also promote the work of WHELF via the blog, email lists, Twitter and the annual report and have the opportunity to attend WHELF events, and related meetings. I also keep a watching brief for information on developments in the library and information sector, other library consortium and the Welsh government in order to keep WHELF up to date and to look for opportunities where WHELF can respond to consultations or opportunities for funding.


When I tell people that I work from home for part of the week, I often get asked whether I just stay in my pyjamas for the day. No, I don’t. You have to be very self-disciplined to work from home and it’s important to have a designated space that is your “office”. I find working from home very productive but it can be lonely, so I do appreciate my day a week that I work at Swansea University when I can take a coffee break with colleagues and be in a professional environment.

What lead me into librarianship? I left school when I was 16 but after working for a number of years in what felt like routine jobs with no prospect I decided that I wanted to return to education so I enrolled in college to study for my A-levels and then studied for an English Literature degree at the University of Reading. On finishing my degree I got a job working on a retrospective cataloguing project in the University of Reading library. I really liked the precision and thoughtfulness of cataloguing, although on my first day when my line manager told me that a colleague was now going to show me how to weed the card catalogue I wasn’t sure if I was being sent on a “fool’s errand”. Once I had started working in the library sector, I knew it was the career for me and so I studied part-time for an MA in Information Services Management at the University of North London, whilst I continued working in the cataloguing department at the University of Reading. On completing my MA, I had the opportunity to return to Wales when I secured a job at the South Wales Miners’ Library working on an RSLP project to catalogue the pamphlets and other materials of this collection.


When the project concluded I worked for eight years as a subject librarian at Swansea University. A move to West Wales in 2008 gave me the opportunity to work as a secondary school librarian and I then spent a couple of years working freelance as an indexer and cataloguer mostly for Proquest until here I am today working for WHELF. Jobs in academic librarianship are rather limited in Pembrokeshire! so I feel very fortunate to be able to work in a sector that I really enjoy and be able to live in a lovely part of the world.

Outside of work, I aspire to be a keen runner but I remain an amateur runner who is never very keen to leave the house and go running in all weathers. I always feel that there are so many other things I need to be getting on with, or if I have spare time I'd rather be reading a good book. It is worth the effort and sometimes pain though as I always feel better after I've been for a run. I am training for a half marathon in June so I'd better start getting on with it. I’m going to need a good audio book to keep me company on the lonely miles......

Friday, 20 March 2015

22b - Delyth Morris, Cardiff University

The second of our posts this week is from Delyth.

Hello! I’m Delyth Morris, and I’ve recently been appointed the Dental and Medical Librarian in Cardiff University. But more about that later. Firstly, how did I end up in this job?! Like many other contributors to this blog, I had a very traditional route to the library sector; after graduating with a degree in English Literature and Language I felt I needed a vocational qualification to help me stand out to employers, especially in the economic climate of the time. The only work experience I’d ever had, other than retail jobs throughout my teen/student years, was one week of work experience in Cardiff Central Library. This experience, coupled with seeking advice from a librarian in the family (it was inevitable really!), led me to undertake an MA in Information and Library Management. Nothing out of the ordinary.


After finishing the MA, I expectantly applied for jobs…. and I’m not sure I had realised quite how difficult it would be to get a job in a library, let alone a professional post. After many unfruitful experiences applying for jobs and interviews, I decided enough was enough and I was going to try and get experience in a different way; I applied for EU funding via ‘The Leonardo Programme’ and before I knew it I was in Florence attempting to learn Italian and working in a public library, Biblioteca delle Oblate. This was a fascinating experience. The library doubled up as an exhibition space, so I learnt a lot about marketing. Given my abysmal language skills, the experience also taught me a lot about empathising with users when there is a language barrier. There was also a brilliant café at the top of the library with a view over the Duomo, which sold Campari and Aperol Spritz at ALL times of the day!


The library was used as an exhibition space – here a string quartet played in the atrium outside the office
On returning to Britain I finally had some library experience, all be it in a foreign country. After a brief spell as a Librarian in a branch library, I started work as a Library Assistant in Cardiff University. Although not a professional post, it was a job in a library, and I viewed it as the perfect opportunity to gain experience. I furthered my customer service skills through enquiry work, got to grips with library systems and most importantly, I volunteered for all sorts of experiences. My favourite was a trip to Milan; I took advantage of the university’s ERASMUS staff development opportunity and went to visit and work in the university library service in Milan for three weeks. I learnt so much through this experience; equal measures of jealousy for their libraries which were in beautiful, historical buildings (one library was based in the former ice store of a hospital, complete with meat hooks for storing meat for patients) and relief at how lucky I was to work in the HE sector in Britain. The provision of information literacy was a battle; I watched one librarian shoehorn a 2 minute library induction into the end of a first year introductory lecture. I was also told that for every purchase made by acquisitions, they had to complete an ‘Anti-Mafia’ declaration form. I initially thought this was a joke at my expense! The experience was brilliant, and the morning coffee breaks every day were fab too!



The libraries in the University of Milan were in architecturally amazing buildings
A few months after this experience I got my first professional post; an Information Specialist working for the National Collaborating Centre for Cancer [NCC-C] undertaking literature searches for NICE cancer guidelines.

So, to come back full circle to my current job as promised. After a year in a fixed term post for the NCC-C, I returned to Cardiff University and am lucky enough to be doing a job which I’ve been hankering after for years; Subject Librarian. I’m very new to the post, but I get to do all the things I’ve enjoyed in my previous roles combined in one job; customer service and enquiry work, information literacy teaching, literature searching, marketing, collection development and many, many more.  Moving forward from here I want to make sure I keep grasping at opportunities that come my way. I’m currently in the process of completing CILIP Chartership and hope to start a teaching qualification soon.

22a - Jane Daniels, Cardiff Metropolitan University

Our first post this week is from Jane Daniels, part-time Bibliographic Librarian at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

I currently work in the Technical Services Unit at Cardiff Met based at the Llandaff campus but over the course of 32 years in libraries I have had a range of interesting posts. I started out in Newport Central public library during sixth form to get some work experience prior to starting my B.LIB at Aberystwyth.

How to find rain in San Pablito Pahuatlan Pue - Alfonso García Tellez

Since graduating I have had jobs in medical libraries; a special library (county council planning department); an academic library as a Subject Librarian; and in acquisitions and cataloguing in a public library technical services department.

So why settle on cataloguing?
Well, it’s varied cutting-edge work with the opportunity to create records that will help searchers today and for many years to come. It’s fair to say that what we backroom bods do directly impacts on the search experience of users. We create or select records so that users can find, identify, select and obtain resources.

Cataloguers compile records to international cataloguing standards (Anglo American Cataloguing Rules 2nd ed. and Resource Description & Access) and using a format (MARC21 or Dublin Core) that machines can recognise, display and index. Many of us also classify using Dewey Decimal Classification or Library of Congress.
The Disappearing Alphabet - Richard Wilbur & Barbara B. Blumenthal

A system, whether it’s a library catalogue or web scale discovery layer (we use SUMMON,) is only as good as the data in it. Poor quality records hamper search and discovery, which considering the money we all spend on resources is not something that we should shrug off!

But it’s not all about record creation.

Here’s what I do on a typical day.
I start by checking mailboxes and dealing with queries from colleagues, e.g. “Why doesn’t the jacket/container image for this title display in the catalogue?” “What is the correct Dewey number for …?” “Why are there so many duplicate records for the same title in our web scale discovery product?” Some I can answer or remedy quickly but others require more investigation and analysis. I might have to open a case with the supplier of our LMS or web scale search product to get a resolution. Once I have cleared these I move onto responses from suppliers to cases that I have opened previously. Sometimes they are proffering a solution to a problem but often there is a request for further information.


22743 Punchings - Jürgen O. Olbrich & Achim Schnyder

Although HE libraries spend a lot of money on eBooks and electronic journals I still have physical stock to catalogue. A glance at the shelves now reveals books (in English & Welsh), DVDs, story-telling packs and off-air recordings. The majority of the book stock will already have catalogue records, of varying quality, attached to the orders. I check the records against the item in hand and make any necessary amendments:

  • Are the records coded correctly? If not then faceted search will be compromised.
  • Does the record accurately describe what I have in my hand or can see on the screen? Important for helping users distinguish between multiple editions and/or formats.
  • Are the access points i.e. names, genre headings, subject headings correct? Do I need to add local keywords to ensure retrieval?
  • Can I use the classification number in the record? We have a number of “Metisms” which are local variations on standard Dewey. I have to ensure that stock doesn’t get dispersed on the shelves by inadvertently accepting a class number for a subject area where we have traditionally used a local number.

Sometimes I source records from other datasets and import them to overwrite our local records.

Then there are the eResources.
We rely on commercial services for records for eJournals and eBooks but I still have to monitor the records for availability, quality and negotiate service improvements with suppliers.

Surley not! - Jackie Batey

Cardiff also has special collections. One of these consists of Artists books. (You can see images of these dotted around in this blog entry!) I love cataloguing these! They are quirky, entertaining, thought-provoking and beautiful. They require a lot more cataloguing than the average textbook because often records are not available as the books may be limited editions or even one offs.

There’s advocacy work as well.
For the last 3 years I have been working with commercial catalogue record providers, the Welsh Books Council and the National Library of Wales to try to ensure that libraries in Wales can access good quality records for Welsh and bi-lingual books. I‘m a member of the CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group and thoroughly recommend attending their training events and biennial conference.

© Cataloguing and Indexing Group

My advice to anyone wanting a career as a cataloguer is to ask yourself these questions.
Can you handle change? 
Are you flexible? 
Do you like a challenge? 
Are you good at problem-solving? 
Do you have a good eye for detail? 
Are you good with IT?
If the answer to these questions is yes then cataloguing or metadata management as it is more commonly referred to these days is going to be an absorbing and satisfying career for you.

In Wales we have the fledgling Cataloguers in Wales Group which aims to provide an informal network for cataloguers working in any library sector. It costs nothing to join our mailing list or follow us on Twitter @CatalogueWales. We also have a blog so feel free to use any of these avenues to ask questions or seek advice.

Good luck!

Friday, 13 March 2015

21 - Lisa Jones, Glan Clwyd Hospital

This week's post comes from Lisa Marie Jones, Librarian in the North Wales NHS Library Service.

Often when I tell people that I’m a Librarian, I’m met with an indifferent response “Oh yes that makes sense” or even “You do seem like a Librarian”. I don’t wear pencil skirts, horn-rimmed glasses or have my finger permanently placed on my lips; but I do like a good cardigan. I think this attribution has more to do with my disposition than my dress sense. I’ve always been an introvert, solitary and reflective yet quietly curious. My library card was one of my favourite toys as a child, the original smartphone, all the information you could ever need behind one rectangular piece of plastic.


Librarianship wasn’t always my dream. As a teenager, I didn’t really aspire towards any career. My high school ‘record of achievement’ folder would tell you that my aspiration was to be ‘a psychiatrist or a journalist’. Given the stark variance in those two careers, I think it’s safe to say that they were spur of the moment decisions. All I knew was that I was going to go to university and I was going to study literature. My first job after graduating was as a Library Assistant at Bangor University’s Main Arts library. I couldn’t believe that it was possible to wake up in the morning looking forward to work let alone actually enjoy myself whilst I was there! The buzz of a busy academic library provided a wonderful working environment; not only did I get to kid myself that I was still a carefree 18 year old student all day long but I was able to facilitate others with their information retrieval and help them with their educational progression, which is such a rewarding feat. Despite the fast paced nature of working behind a library desk, I still had the chance to be alone and reflect by taking myself away, plugging in my ipod and shelving trolleys of returned books in the beautiful Shankland reading room. I decided a career in libraries would definitely suffice as the aspiration I’d been missing. I’m not sure my BA would quite qualify me for a future in Psychiatry anyway.


I checked myself out of North Wales and moved to Manchester in 2012 to begin my MA in Library and Information Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. I specialised in marketing for my thesis with a focus on QR codes and their viability as a promotional tool. The course itself gave me a wide variety of knowledge, with modules in Media Law, Search & Retrieval, and Management. I completed a Business Plan, researched into the laws surrounding internet trolling and developed a usability test for a television on-demand service. Far more than just books and shelves!

Last year I was offered my first professional post as a Librarian for the North Wales NHS Library Service. I’d previously worked in various academic and public libraries but this was my first experience in an NHS health library. I’ve had a few people ask me the question “Why would a hospital need a library?” I think people initially assume that the library provides fiction books, perhaps for hospital visitors or patients. Rather, the library is an information hub for staff and students at the hospital to facilitate their evidence-based practice and patient care. A typical day for a health librarian involves completing literature searches for doctors or medical students. So far I’ve completed searches varying from ‘The role of Physiotherapy in Obesity’ to “Hoarding behaviour in adults”. I’ve helped students with their referencing for essays and helped a consultant prepare for a debate on microbiological testing. I’m a natural sceptic with an admiration for science, and so searching for evidence for medical care is something I am very glad to be a part of. It can be very daunting to know that my information retrieval may play a part in the care of a patient and so it is important that I am meticulous and thorough with my searches, and to have clear communication with the customer who requests my assistance.

I have a wide variety of day to day duties, I process the ordering and receipting of our book stock and catalogue the new books on their arrival. I am the student liaison librarian and it is my responsibility to perform library inductions for medical students who have their placement in Glan Clwyd Hospital. I am also the Athens Administrator for the hospital and deal with any queries and issues that staff members have with regards to the access of electronic resources via Athens authentication. We offer one-to-one searching skills sessions as well as group training sessions on medical databases. As well as being a provider of professional knowledge, the library also holds a selection of fiction books as light relief in a sea of medical textbooks. It’s also a place for the medical staff to come for some peace and quiet away from the busy hospital wards. This job has been an excellent platform for my career and has enabled me to undertake many courses as part of my continued professional development, such as those on copyright, critical appraisal and cataloguing. As a CILIP member, I recently enrolled as a candidate for the MCLIP qualification and I hope to become chartered within the next year.


Being a health librarian means I am able to learn about many interesting topics. I previously had limited medical knowledge but in the past eight months I’ve had to quickly adapt to medical terminology and medical career structures. I’ve also had to eliminate any squeamish or health anxious behaviour, as medical textbooks can be graphic and grim to say the least!

I’m excited for my future as a Librarian. Librarianship is a field with endless opportunities. I hope to become an active member of CILIP, engage in as many networking opportunities as possible and visit other libraries to appreciate the wider context of libraries outside of my current sector. Although my introverted nature may seem like the perfect pathway towards a career in libraries, people may be surprised at the energy and pace of modern day libraries. One could also be fooled into believing that electronic books will see the end of the Librarian, but with the ever evolving world of information and the increasing immediacy in which it is delivered, it is even more essential that we have library and information professionals to decipher the fact from the fiction.

Friday, 6 March 2015

20 - Louise Harrington, Cardiff University

This week we hear from Louise, who works as a Repository Administrator for Cardiff University's Institutional Repository.

First confession: I fell into librarianship by accident! I started a PhD in English Literature at Cardiff University in 1999, and applied for a part-time evening post in the library to help pay my way. I worked Tuesday evenings and Saturdays in Trevithick Library, home of Computer Science, Engineering and Physics and Astronomy, for a number of years, while studying and teaching undergraduates part-time, and shelving Engineering tomes was often a welcome distraction. For a while after getting my doctorate, I balanced teaching at Cardiff University and what was then the University of Glamorgan, with working in the library, and gradually realized I preferred the latter to being an academic! I successfully applied for a maternity cover post in 2008, and have worked full-time for Cardiff University Library Service (ULS) ever since. I undertook a diploma in Library and Information Studies at Aberystwyth via Distance Learning between 2007 and 2012.


My librarian career has been varied to say the least – I’ve worked in Senghennydd Library, the Arts and Social Studies Library, Music, Science and Biomed, and as a Library Operations Manager, Senior Library Assistant, I-WIRE Project officer, Welsh Information Literacy Project Officer, (temporary) Subject Librarian and finally and permanently as Repository Administrator for Cardiff’s Institutional Repository, ORCA.

This was a brand new role when I was appointed in January 2012, which was both scary and invigorating as it meant I could (within reason obviously) carve my own path. On a normal day, I start by checking the general ORCA email, answering any queries and forwarding on any to my line manager and colleagues. Typical queries range from how to enter items into ORCA, how to change bibliographic data and how can they add full text. The task I do every day is to look at what data has been entered into the repositories review area, determine what needs to be prioritized and who should do it. A lot of time is also taken up with checking copyright and publisher policies to determine if the full text files we have been sent by researchers can be uploaded: it’s great when they can be, but really frustrating when the author doesn’t have the right version. The ORCA team are responsible for uploading the green full text, but we spend a lot of time liaising with colleagues in the Open Access team regarding gold full text compliance.

As most librarians know, open access and research support is a hugely relevant topic in academic libraries, especially with the HEFCE compliance requests for the next REF, and it is a very hot and ever-changing topic, so keeping up with developments in green and gold OA, repositories, not to mention altmetrics and bibliometrics is a full-time job in itself. A lot of my time is taken up reading mailing list posts and blogs, looking for ideas that we can implement in our team.


I also train other members of library staff in using ORCA so that they can help their schools deposit items, so I often hold large training sessions or individual consultations. We also provide training sessions to PhD students on submitting their theses to ORCA as all research theses must now be submitted electronically rather than in print.

I enjoy being involved in an area that is very dynamic, always changing, and one that involves talking to PhD students, academics, school administrators, and teams in the professional services division. Repositories and Open Access will be central to the next REF so it is good to feel part of that. Cardiff University will soon be implementing a CRIS (Current Research Information System) so getting involved in the nitty-gritty of that will be entertaining! I also like it when I can put a piece of full text on ORCA, as that is the whole point of open access repositories – my colleagues think I’m weird…


I’m also Chair of the Workplace Learning Working Group within ULS, which is all about finding opportunities for library staff to develop their skills by learning from colleagues. We run three programmes at the moment: a job shadowing scheme, where someone shadows a colleagues in a different or senior role; job rotation, where staff swap roles for a short period; and ‘Do Something Different Day’, where staff go to a different library or department for up to a day. This last one is really popular – we run it twice a year (May and December), and other libraries in the Cardiff area participate in the May event, which is excellent. I’m also part of Cardiff University’s Inspire Choir – I am by not stretch of the imagination a good singer, but it’s great fun!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

19 - Jayne Evans, Hay-on-Wye

Prepare for plenty of librarian envy this week as we hear from Jayne, Branch Librarian in Hay-on-Wye.

On Saturday morning my friends Mari and Jasper Fforde came into the library and presented me with a t-shirt bearing the legend:

“I don’t scare easily - I’m a librarian”


For me this jolly gesture really sums up the two distinct but complimentary halves of my job; that is Community and Literature. Jasper is, of course, an extremely successful novelist, but he and the wonderful Mari are also part of the community and I have watched their children grow up and been at nursery Nativity plays with them and ordered books for them in the library.

I am the Branch Librarian at Hay-on-Wye Library, which is no ordinary joint because there is a little annual festival held down the road and there are a few bookshops about the place. Hay has a population of about 1400, and many of  our users live in the surrounding villages in Powys and Herefordshire. It is a town of many incomers, who are charmed by its delightful buildings, ancient castle and the romance of the bookshops and the Festival. However there are people who have lived here all their lives and have had to adjust to their town being invaded - yet again - by The English. (Hay has a history of battle, being right on the border, and the castle was razed to the ground several times in the Middle Ages.) Hay-on-Wye is firmly in Wales; the Welsh flag is always flying here, and I use Welsh greetings, and pounce on Welsh speakers to try out my egregious efforts in the language.

I feel that libraries should be at the heart of the community. I believe we should offer service to all, and be a vital part of the social infrastructure.

Gift from a library user
Where else can you go that is free to read the paper, or to use a computer to fulfil your Job Seeker’s Allowance requirements or to meet friends and talk about books or, indeed, anything at all? The joy of running a small branch is that my colleague Paul and I really get to know our customers’ needs whatever they may be. Naturally folk feel positive when they come to the library because we are seen as enablers, which is a great basis for any relationship. We do a lot of book recommendation, and computer help, particularly following a particularly good WAG initiative wherein a worker came in weekly and ran a drop-in advice service.

We have a lovely user-run Story Time for little people. A parent offered to read stories for half an hour a week, and the session has blossomed with other parents taking it in turns to read or sing, and I read a short Welsh book – with English translation.

We have some terrific users who know so much of the history of Hay indeed our grumpiest customer, who is really a dear, knows tons of stuff that is fascinating and useful. Excitingly we are about to install a case displaying local historical items, including a section for children.

As our community is small we have been involved in many partnerships with other local organisations and the wealth of writers who live locally means we have hosted some illustrious occasions, albeit tiny ones.

And then there’s The Festival. For 10 days a year Hay has a temporary population of up to 80,000 people who come to see some of the most exciting and interesting people in the world. I have lost track of the people I’ve seen in town – I once saw The Archbishop of Canterbury, in full regalia, walking down the street and Peter Barlow off Corrie at the café round the corner.


Hay Festival is most supportive of the Library and we have met some extraordinary people through our links with the people who run it. It is an astonishing event; every year when we get the programme I wonder at how they put it all together and one year Philip Pullman graciously agreed to do a photo-shoot in our little place.

Possibly the most exciting celeb ever was the illustrious Nancy Pearl, the most famous librarian in the world, who walked into the library, saw my Librarian Action Figure and said “That’s ME!” I was unfeasibly excited as you see in the photo.


However, although we count ourselves as very privileged to be able to meet some of the most famous people in the universe I would have to say that the best part of our job is the community aspect. To watch my colleague Paul gently and sensitively help a very vulnerable woman to fill in her Blue Badge Form is worth all the words in Proust. To welcome the young women who now come here on their own after visiting here with their school is a privilege. To be able to give some small comfort to someone whose partner has just died is just a basic human kindness.

I recently read an article via Twitter which listed the 10 Best Jobs. I was absolutely sure that being a librarian would be right at the top of the list. What other job can be so much fun, so personally educational, so tidy (I love tidying), so creative, so social, so positive, and for us in Hay the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the most exciting cultural figures in the world. Hoorah.

In a neat segue to Jasper Fforde again, here is the dedication from The Woman Who Died a Lot:


To all the librarians
that have ever been
ever will be
are now
this book is respectfully dedicated


Friday, 27 February 2015

18 - Kara Orford, Denbighshire Libraries

This week we hear from Kara on her role as a Community Librarian in Denbighshire.


My career in libraries began quite accidentally when I applied for a Saturday Assistant’s post in a local public library to help pay the bills while studying for my MA in American Literature. What a revelation that was! I have always loved reading but had never really used public libraries. This is something that I constantly harangue my mum about now! How on earth did you not think to take a child that loves reading to the library? Anyway, I digress… I distinctly remember thinking ‘I love this job and would still do it even if they didn’t pay me.’ That can’t be a bad thing surely? My MA soon finished and I thought that seeing as though I was so happy with my job, I would start applying for full time library assistant posts.

I was very lucky as Manchester Libraries were advertising a whole host of posts across the city and I was offered a full time post in the Miles Platting group, working across 4 libraries. It was during my time in Manchester that I had my first opportunity to help out with class visits and story time and I absolutely loved the experience. From then on, I was hooked and knew that working with children was something that I really wanted to develop as my career progressed.

I moved from Manchester back to Doncaster, where I was Assistant in Charge of my very own library. Management was a new challenge for me and, at only 23, I felt pretty overwhelmed at the time. Blocked toilets? Staff sickness? Leaking roofs? These had always been someone else’s problem and all of a sudden they were mine. To say this was a steep learning curve would be an understatement, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! I was thriving and learning so much! It was whilst working in this post that I decided l was in libraries for the long haul.

I combined my mid 20s travelling itch with library work and worked as a Children’s Library Assistant for the rather beautifully named ‘Petticoat Creek Library’ in Ontario, Canada before returning to the UK and working as a School Librarian in a Yorkshire comprehensive. After a brief spell as a Community Librarian in East Yorkshire I made the move to the North West and have been in post here in Denbighshire for four and a half years now. I was awarded Chartership status via Pathway 2 back in 2012.


My role as Community Librarian for Prestatyn and St Asaph is extremely varied and no two days are the same. I make up part of our county’s Library Management Team, so attending those meetings ensures that wider, strategic aspects of the service are fed down and actioned in our libraries. As Community Librarian I am responsible for line management of our team of library and one-stop-shop assistants across both sites and the associated admin that comes with that. Appraisals, annual leave, buildings matters and e-mails seem to take up a significant chunk of my week but I can’t say that they are the thing that I most love about my job. They’re very necessary though that’s for sure!

The inspiring stuff? The things that still make me happy every morning to get out of bed and drive to work? Children’s stock purchasing for the county is one area of my responsibility, as is the programming of community reading groups in the libraries that I manage. We have several reading groups, a Chatterbooks group and a Carnegie Medal focussed reading group that I run at the nearby high school. If ever I am having a bad day, an hour spent with any of those groups will soon turn my mood around and remind me why I love my job. I schedule and lead class visits to the library on a regular basis (a real boost to issues and membership that I spend a lot of my time pursuing) I am also often found visiting school assemblies or classes to promote our service and try to instil that all important love of reading for pleasure.


Organising, promoting and delivering special events for World Book Night, National Libraries Day and one-off author events provides me with another opportunity to engage with readers and excite them about what their library can offer. I am also very lucky in that both Prestatyn & St Asaph libraries have recently undergone refurbishment (following the St Asaph floods and relocation in the case of Prestatyn). Having modern and attractive libraries that I want to shout about and keep well used has been very motivating. I could fill an entire blog entry with the trials and tribulations of those projects but I won’t bore you with woes of hard hats and missing shelving!  We got there in the end!

Of course, it isn’t all sunshine at present, we are all well aware of the cuts facing library services (I’m sorry, I really struggle to euphemise them as ‘efficiencies’, we all know what they are!) and it can be easy to get weighed down with the despair that comes from feeling that your profession and everything that you stand for is under threat. At times like this, I feel branching out, and getting involved in wider professional groups and working parties has been a godsend. I attend and contribute to the All Wales Marketing Team meetings, I am on the Wales Youth Libraries Group Committee and I am also involved in the Estyn Allan project across North Wales. Getting together with colleagues and undertaking work in addition to and alongside my role in Denbighshire has really contributed to my professional development and re-instilled that drive and belief that what librarians do is both important and relevant! I can’t speak highly enough of Wales Youth Libraries Group. Becoming a committee member has given me the opportunity to be involved in arranging training days for fellow professionals, meeting and working with colleagues from across several counties and perhaps most exciting of all, the opportunity to act as Wales YLG’s current Carnegie and Greenaway Medal judge. Such a variety of opportunities have come about from this professional working party and I would encourage any librarians working in Wales to get involved if they can.

Will I work in public libraries forever? After a decade of loving my work, it is hard coming to terms with the fact that progression is less and less likely as each year passes. Posts are deleted and jobs just aren’t advertised anymore. This can be frustrating when I see friends from university working in the private sector who are on the up and up. One thing’s for sure, nobody is a librarian because they want to be rich. We do it because we love it and we believe fervently in what we do. If I can’t work in libraries forever, I know one thing for certain, I won’t regret a second of the time I have spent in them!

Friday, 13 February 2015

17 - Suzanne Fisher, University of Wales Trinity St David

We've already had a post from Philippa at UWTSD Swansea, so now it's the turn of Suzy at the Carmarthen campus to describe a typical day from September 2014.

My name is Suzy Fisher and I work as a Periodicals Librarian on the Carmarthen campus of University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Whenever I mention to folk that I work in a library, I can see the images of twinsets and date stamps swirling into their heads. But what does librarianship really involve? Well, my role involves managing all of the print subscriptions for the Carmarthen and Lampeter libraries and the inevitable problems and conundrums that crop up along the way. It can involve spending long periods in dusty archives getting dirty in a search for a particular volume that has gone astray. It involves a lot of IT work – something I was not aware of when I started this post! It is about as far from the twin-set image as you can get! My journey to the library is a long and slightly convoluted one that leads me through working in a Faculty Office in Bristol and looking after Social Work students in Pembrokeshire. But when I finally did land here in the library in Carmarthen, I realised that being surrounded by the quest for knowledge and helping people navigate that journey was my natural home! I had always loved libraries from childhood right through university and learning to research on my Masters in Cardiff and into adulthood. Why wouldn’t I be working in a library?


I am currently a Distance Learning student at Aberystwyth University studying towards the MSc in Library and Information Studies. The first year of my course was CyMAL funded which was a great opportunity to discover whether the course is the right one for you before making the decision to work towards the qualification whether at diploma or Masters level. This week I put to bed another module – only 3 more to complete until I am faced with the dreaded dissertation! I can be found most lunchtimes at my desk poring over some reading or other, it really is a degree of stolen moments! Once I reach the next study school in April 2015, I really will feel like the end is in sight. With all assignment deadlines being set by the individual student, this course requires a steely sense of self-discipline and can feel like a battle between work and family. Sometimes I am amazed I manage to get anything done! It’s a wonderful learning opportunity though and studying whilst working is beneficial on both sides. 


It’s a hectic time of year to be writing a blog post in an academic library, we are awaiting a new influx of students here next week. At UWTSD Carmarthen we have already welcomed our International students as well as the Art & Design students from our partner college next door. All across the campus there is an air of anticipation as last minute preparations are being hastily made for the new arrivals. Desks have been moved around within the library to make more study space, the collections have been moved around to increase accessibility, we are implementing a single sign-on to our electronic resources. While all of these are positive changes, it is likely to cause much confusion in the coming weeks as returning students adapt to the changes. Although difficult and challenging, these scenarios reflect what is going on in libraries in many sectors as we try to do our best with what little we have, keeping our service relevant and up-to-date while budgets don’t quite match our ambitions.


We are also going head-on with our Social Media marketing campaign this year. Having just tipped 300 likes on Facebook and introducing a Pinterest page – we are using techniques such as quizzes and prizes to raise awareness of our services and, hopefully, bring more people through the door. Having recently attended a CyMAL funded workshop on Digital Marketing we are really keen to expand upon this avenue and use it to its full potential. This year the University has employed a number of student ambassadors to increase the social media presence of the University, especially in the run up to clearing and registration, and following these has been so informative. It really is useful to see things through the students’ eyes, and will definitely freshen up our approach and the way we formulate our own presence on Social Media.


As a merged institution, we are currently working hard to harmonise the libraries across all campuses so that they offer a parity of experience for all students. This is not straightforward as we have a number of local practices to consider and it requires a lot of give and take on both sides which can be challenging for all involved. While we want to offer an equal experience across all campuses, we don’t want to lose the individual identity of each library. Currently we are awaiting news of the shared all-Wales LMS, this will allow us to finally merge our records across all libraries. Once in place, we will consider ourselves to be properly merged!

So, as you can see, libraries never sit still. They are a vibrant, lively place to work, even when we encourage silence! What is all boils down to is that sense of satisfaction you get from someone approaching you not knowing how to access/find something and taking the time with that person until they learn that skill. That is what makes the job rewarding and no two days are ever the same!

Friday, 6 February 2015

16 - Vashti Zarach, Bangor University

Our latest post is from Vashti Zarach, Academic Support Librarian for the College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University. This post is in Welsh, please scroll down for the English version.

Rwyf yn mwynhau gweithio gyda llyfrau a phobl. Mae'n hen ystrydeb erbyn hyn, ond dyna'r rheswm yr wyf yn mwynhau gweithio mewn llyfrgelloedd. Nid oeddwn wedi bwriadu bod yn llyfrgellydd pan oeddwn yn blentyn, roeddwn eisiau bod yn nofelydd neu'n westai enwog ar y Muppet Show. Ond roeddwn yn caru llyfrau gymaint roeddwn eisiau gwneud fy mhrofiad gwaith pan oeddwn yn yr ysgol yn llyfrgell y brifysgol leol ac yn awr, dros ugain mlynedd yn ddiweddarach, rwyf yn gweithio yn yr union un llyfrgell ym Mangor.

© Lucy Devereux

Mae llyfrgellyddiaeth wedi newid llawer yn yr ugain mlynedd ddiwethaf, er bod pobl yn dal i ofyn i mi ddweud "Shhhh" pan rwy'n dweud wrthynt fy mod yn llyfrgellydd. Yn y tri mis diwethaf ers i dymor newydd y brifysgol ddechrau, rwyf wedi bod yn rhoi cyflwyniadau dysgu a chynnal gweithdai cyfrifiaduron i fyfyrwyr, wedi cyflwyno systemau rhestrau darllen electronig newydd i academyddion, rhoi cyflwyniad ar ein project Adnoddau Addysgol mewn cyfarfod yng Nghaerdydd, wedi cynnal sesiynau cymorth un i un, ateb ymholiadau e-bost, wedi bod mewn llawer o gyfarfodydd mewnol, ac wedi gwneud ffilm arddangos fer gan ddefnyddio pypedau...

Astudiais Archaeoleg ac Anthropoleg yn y brifysgol ac mae gennyf ddiddordeb o hyd mewn safleoedd treftadaeth, diwylliannau byd-eang a phynciau cysylltiedig, ond dechreuais ogwyddo at yrfa llyfrgellydd ar ôl i mi fynd i'r llyfrgell yn fy ngholeg yng Nghaergrawnt mewn ymateb i hysbyseb am weithwyr i stocio silffoedd.  Yn ystod yr ugain mlynedd ddiwethaf rwyf wedi gweithio mewn pedair llyfrgell wahanol.

Roedd fy swydd swyddogol gyntaf yn llyfrgell King's College yng Nghaergrawnt, llyfrgell fechan gyda chasgliad gwych o lyfrau i wasanaethu cymuned y coleg, ynghyd ag archifau'r coleg, a fy holl le sef casgliad  eclectig o lyfrau a roddwyd gan gyn aelodau o'r coleg yn cynnwys popeth o weithiau academaidd i'r llyfrau gwych o luniau gan Jan Pienkowski.

Darllenfa Shankland, Prifysgol Bangor

Ar ôl dychwelyd adref i ogledd Cymru ar ôl treulio sawl blwyddyn yng Nghaergrawnt, gweithiais am flwyddyn mewn llyfrgell coleg addysg bellach yng Ngholeg Menai lle cefais fy ysbrydoli'n arbennig gan fyfyrwyr yn dychwelyd i ddysgu ar ôl seibiannau hir. Trwy gydol fy ngyrfa fel llyfrgellydd, rwyf bob amser wedi mwynhau helpu pobl i chwilio am adnoddau a gwybodaeth perthnasol yn y llyfrgell, ac rwyf yn mwynhau gweithio gyda myfyrwyr yn arbennig sy'n gweld y maes hwn yn anodd i ddechrau ac yna'n gweld eu hyder a'u sgiliau'n tyfu. Yn fy swydd bresennol, mae gennyf ddiddordeb o hyd mewn sicrhau bod y gymuned leol yn gwybod y gallant ddefnyddio ein llyfrgell.

Astudiais ôl-radd mewn Rheoli Gwybodaeth yn Brighton a oedd yn canolbwyntio ar faterion fel y gymdeithas wybodaeth, cyhoeddi electronig a dylunio gwybodaeth, yn hytrach na dim ond y sgiliau llyfrgell mwy traddodiadol fel catalogio yr oeddwn eisoes wedi eu dysgu. Cefais swydd dros gyfnod mamolaeth ym Mhrifysgol Sussex, yn cyflenwi'r Llyfrgellydd Cynorthwyol yn y British Library of Development Studies a oedd yn gorgyffwrdd â fy niddordebau anthropolegol. Roedd Brighton yn lle gwych i dreulio amser, a bûm hefyd yn gwirfoddoli gyda sefydliad celf gymunedol a oedd yn trefnu gorymdeithiau ond stori arall yw honno..

Bûm yn gweithio wedyn am rai blynyddoedd mewn e-ddysgu, trefnu grŵp diddordeb arbennig i sefydliad o'r enw CETIS, a threfnu cyfarfodydd chwarterol i staff addysg uwch ac addysg bellach y DU a oedd yn gweithio ar gyfuno systemau. Bu'r cam hwn yn fy ngyrfa yn werthfawr iawn o ran datblygu fy niddordeb a fy mhrofiad mewn meysydd fel anabledd a hygyrchedd, cyfryngau cymdeithasol a thechnoleg dysgu, sydd wedi bod yn ddefnyddiol yn fy swydd bresennol, yn gweithio fel llyfrgellydd cefnogaeth i'r Gwyddorau Naturiol ym Mhrifysgol Bangor.

Rwyf yn cefnogi coleg gwych yma ym Mangor, ac unwaith eto rwyf wedi cyfarfod â llawer o bobl wych sy'n gwneud ymchwil diddorol iawn. Mae'n swydd heriol, nid dim ond oherwydd bod y dechnoleg a'r byd academaidd yn newid drwy'r amser, ond oherwydd bod gennyf ddau o blant bach, yn gweithio'n rhan amser ac yn dechrau dod drwy'r niwl o amddifadedd cwsg!

© Katy Moyers

Mae'r sgiliau allweddol presennol yn ymwneud â blaenoriaethu, cadw ar y blaen gyda newidiadau, bod yn barod i gymryd rhan mewn meysydd newydd a dysgu pynciau newydd, cael cydbwysedd rhwng anghenion y llyfrgell a'r coleg yn ogystal â chymryd rhan mewn mentrau a phrojectau allanol.  Ond wrth wraidd hyn i gyd, mae'r llyfrau (a'r e-lyfrau, e-gyfnodolion, cronfeydd data ac yn y blaen) a'r bobl (boed yno'n gorfforol neu angen cefnogaeth ar-lein), cyn belled â bod craidd y gwaith yn canolbwyntio ar gysylltu pobl gydag adnoddau'r llyfrgell, mae'n dal i fod yn llyfrgellyddiaeth ac rwyf yn dal i'w fwynhau. Ond os ydych yn castio ar gyfer y ffilm Muppet nesaf, mae croeso i chi gysylltu â mi.


I enjoy working with books and people. It’s a well worn cliché, but still the reason I enjoy working in libraries. I never planned to be a librarian as a child, I wanted to be a novelist or a guest star in the Muppet Show. However, I loved books enough that I asked to do my school work experience in the local university library, and now, over two decades later, I work in the very same library, in Bangor, North Wales.

© Lucy Devereux

Librarianship has changed a great deal in the last twenty years, even though when I tell people I’m a librarian, they still ask me to say “Shhhh”. In the last three months since the new university term began, I have given teaching presentations and run computer workshop sessions for students, introduced the new electronic reading lists system to academics, given a presentation on our open Educational Resource project at a meeting in Cardiff, done one to one help sessions, answered email enquiries, attended lots of internal meetings, and made a short demo film using puppets…

I originally studied Archaeology and Anthropology at university, and am still very interested in heritage sites, global cultures, and related topics, but ended up gravitating into a library career after I called into my Cambridge college library in response to an advert looking for book shelvers. During the following two decades I have worked in four different libraries.

My first official post was in the above mentioned Kings’ College Library in Cambridge, a small library with a wonderful book collection to serve the college community, plus a College Archives, and my favourite area, an eclectic assortment of books donated by former college members, containing everything from academic works to the fabulous picture books of Jan Pienkowski.

Shankland Reading Room, Bangor University

On returning to my homeland of North Wales after several years in Cambridge, I worked for a year in an FE college library at Coleg Menai, where I was particularly inspired by students returning to learning after long breaks. Throughout my library career, I have always enjoyed helping people hunt for relevant library resources and information, but particularly enjoy working with students who initially feel challenged by this area, and watching their confidence and skills grow. In my current role, I still take an interest in ensuring the local community know they can use our library.

I did a postgraduate degree in Information Management in Brighton which focused on issues such as the information society, electronic publishing and information design, rather than just the more traditional library skills such as cataloguing which I had already covered in some of my roles. I did a maternity leave cover post in Sussex University, covering the Assistant Librarian at the British Library of Development Studies, which overlapped with my anthropological interests. Brighton was a wonderful place to spend time, and I also volunteered with a community arts organization who organized parades but that’s another story…

I then worked for a few years in e-learning, organizing a special interest group for an organization called CETIS, and arranging quarterly meetings for UK FE and HE staff working on systems integration. This sideways step proved very beneficial in developing my interest and experience in areas such as disability and accessibility, social media and learning technology, which I have carried with me into my current role, working as support librarian for Natural Sciences at Bangor University.

I support a fantastic College here at Bangor, and have again met a lot of great people doing some really interesting research. It’s a challenging role, not just because technology and academia are ever changing, but also because I have two young children, work part-time, and am only just slowly emerging from the fog of sleep deprivation!

© Katy Moyers

The key skills these days are all about juggling priorities, keeping ahead of changes, being ready to participate in new areas and teach new subjects, and balancing the needs of the library and my College as well as participating in external initiatives and projects. At the heart of this however, there are still the books (and the e-books, e-journals, databases, and so forth) and the people (whether physically present or requiring online support), and as long as the core of the work centres on connecting the people with the library resources, it’s still librarianship and I still like it. However, if you’re casting the next Muppet film, don’t hesitate to give me a call.

Friday, 30 January 2015

15 - Mandy Powell, CILIP Cymru Wales

When Mandy wrote this post back in September, she was the CILIP Policy Officer for CILIP Cymru Wales, she has since been named as Head of CILIP Cymru Wales. Congratulations Mandy!



I’m the CILIP member of staff for Wales and I work with a great group of people who make up the CILIP Cymru Wales Committee. I’ve always been interested in learning and development and the power of continual professional development or CPD. I applied for my first library role just after leaving school at 18 but didn’t get the job. I was heartbroken at the time, but decided to get some experience of working with the public by working in an independent bookshop. I actually asked the owners if they would train me and in exchange I would work for free, but after the first day they started paying me, so I rather cheekily talked my way into a job that wasn’t there.

I used this opportunity to learn more about customer care and develop my knowledge of books and information sources and applied for another part time library assistant post and this time I got it. I worked part time in the bookshop and part time in a library and information centre in Monmouthshire while studying via distance learning with the Open University for my first degree in English Literature.

As soon as I finished my first degree I enrolled on a Masters Degree course in Information and Library Studies with Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, again via distance learning and during that time I got a full time assistant post in a bigger library. I looked for opportunities to develop at work and applied for a temporary promotion working on a library strategy for engaging with children and their families. I learned a lot from this and the combination of working for a library and information service in the day and studying in the evening and weekends, although full on, was a great way to combine theory and practice.

I got my first professional role working for Newport as their Reader Development Librarian and this is where I put together my Chartership portfolio and developed skills in training, recruitment and event origination.

I started work for CILIP in autumn 2007 and to be honest I still pinch myself that I got the role; I had wanted to work for the organisation since starting the Chartership process, wanting to use my knowledge and skills to help and support library and information staff.

My role is varied and covers many areas, and I’ve found it a great way to learn new skills. CILIP Cymru Wales supports members of CILIP based in Wales and advocates on behalf of the profession. I am based at home but spend a lot of my time meeting staff across the country. I’m very proud to work in and represent Wales, we have a good history of cross sector working and sharing best practice; with library and information staff in public libraries, HE and FE, health, schools, law and business all sharing knowledge and learning from each other.

L-R, Lori Havard, Carol Edwards (CILIP Cymru Wales Committee), John Griffiths AM, Mandy Powell, Barbara Band, CILIP President at the CILIP Cymru Wales conference May 2014

I organise the annual CILIP Cymru Wales conference, which is a major piece of project management and has given me opportunities to develop various business skills such as negotiating contracts with hotels and organising trade exhibitions.

In recent months I have compiled evidence for CILIP Cymru Wales to submit to the Public Library Inquiry and I gave evidence in person at the Senedd. I was very proud to represent the profession to the panel of politicians and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, it was a golden opportunity to make sure decision makers continue to be aware of the importance of library and information services and the power they have to support and transform lives.

L-R, Mandy Powell, Carol Edwards, Chair, CILIP Cymru Wales, Jane Sellwood, Society of Chief Librarians, Wales giving evidence at the Senedd in February 2014

The most enjoyable part of my job is meeting wonderful library and information staff across Wales and the UK; I am continually impressed by their skills and passion for supporting others. Those who volunteer to work on the CILIP Cymru Wales Committee bring so much knowledge and enthusiasm to their roles; it is a constant reminder that for most of us, being a librarian is so much more than just a job.

Friday, 23 January 2015

14 - Jane Sellwood, Merthyr Tydfil


Our latest post from Jane at Merthyr Tydfil Public Libraries, illustrates what a constantly changing environment libraries can be.
I sort of fell into Librarianship, it certainly wasn’t a career path I had ever considered! I was 18 and had just had dreadful results on my A-Levels, although it wasn’t all bad as the Sixth Form was definitely the best years of my school life. We had a fantastic time, just forgot to do any real work associated with our courses.

I saw a part time and full time post advertised in the local newspaper and while I couldn’t face going back to school to re-sit, thought the local college would be a good option and if I did a bit of work along the way, I would have some money as well. This was a plan.
I turned up at the interview and to tame my then very long very curly hair had decided a bun was the best option, coupled with my glasses I am amazed no-one thought I was taking the mickey!! I had only ever set foot in a library once in my life before this interview although I was an avid reader (note to any people looking for library work – don’t say you love reading and want to write a book, we are all pretty much sick of hearing that! Tell us how you enjoying interacting with people, enjoy helping others gain new skills and more of that ilk).




The same day I had a call which offered me a part time post in Treharris Branch Library, to start as soon as possible. I was delighted, because part time would be so much better for me to keep up with my studies.

Needless to say I started work and never went back to college. I loved the Library which was a small but busy branch with the usual clientele. A table full of newspaper readers and a number of elderly users who babied me as the ‘new little girl’. It was a fantastic working environment, with great staff and lovely customers. It was this that drew me to taking on as much overtime as possible and forgetting all thoughts of going to re-sit my A Levels.
Two years later I got married, and the year after had my first child. An opportunity then came up for a full time position in the Central Library and I was on the move. Another baby came along and so did the opportunity for a promotion to a supervisory level. Staff management was a new concept but one I enjoyed.


Merthyr Central Library
Another two years later saw a fantastic opportunity come my way and I decided I would start to study for my degree via distance learning in Aberystwyth. By now I had two small children, five and almost three, a full time job, a home, husband and all the fun that comes with that! Possibly not the wisest time to start a degree.....

Three years later with the degree over had also seen me move into a trainee role, then once the degree had come through, a permanent position running the Central Library. Certainly a challenge but again another job I loved doing. Organising rotas, work patterns, building management, stock management, organising events, organising activities, Summer Reading Challenge, Story and Rhyme and so much more. Never a dull moment – in fact rarely a moment to catch a breath!
Two years later all change again, with another promotion and a change of role. Although for a while I covered two roles (and I thought I had been busy before...). I became a sort of second in command to the Head of Libraries, although my title was Customer Services Librarian, and then another two years later saw our Head of Libraries retire.
Absolutely the start of one of the most intense periods of my working life, as the offer on the table for retirement packages was very good, a number of staff who had many years of knowledge and expertise decided the time was right to leave. This meant a full re-organisation and for me culminated in my current role of Principal Librarian (no longer called the Head of Libraries role) and writing the first report for the Welsh Public LibraryStandards of my career.
Now my role is very different from the halcyon days in Treharris Library. During my time as Principal Librarian (or general dogsbody as the role is also known) we have had a turbulent time. The first three months saw a refurbishment bid to CyMAL for the Central Library to the tune of £350,000 and a closure of almost four months. On returning to re-inhabit the building the state of some of the collections was discovered with stock not catalogued, photographs in just one large muddle and many other issues. This is now in year three of a five year plan.....


Treharris Library
Next came a bid to refurbish another of the Libraries, one very close to my heart, in Treharris. Reserve list for this so rested back and thought we would have a bit of breathing space but no – suddenly offered the money and on to sorting that out. One evening at home during this time I mentioned to my husband the lack of provision of service in themed area of the valley. He happened at the time to be the manager of the leisure centre in Aberfan and there was born the idea of a new library. As so many things often are in Libraries, this was to be done on a shoestring with little funding available. The room was drab so a couple of coats of paint and some of the old shelving resurrected and myself and another member of staff had created a library – not a bad effort in a week, especially as we did all the painting ourselves!

Time passed in a whirlwind as I got to grips with the role I now do, but then we were knocked sideways by the massive cuts to Local Authority spending and we had nowhere to cut other than our mobile service and staffing. These were the hardest times I have been through as we went through a compulsory redundancy process and lost staff who I had worked with for many years. And now we are likely to move from the Local Authority to a newly formed Leisure and Culture Trust, so all change again.
One thing I can honestly say is that I have never been bored in my career, never had a lack of things to do, always been interested and never regretted a single day of being who I am and doing it the way I have.  So three marketing awards on, three library refurbishments under our belt and very good achievement against the Welsh Public Library Standards later I am looking forward to the next challenge. There definitely will be one, as I don’t think a year has gone by when Libraries and the services we offer haven’t changed in some way.