What is your background?
BA(Hons) and MA by research in Music; didn't complete PhD; Postgraduate Diploma in Librarianship. Currently halfway through another PhD the hard way – in my spare time. Have worked in two university libraries and one public library before present post.
What initially attracted you to your job?
Using an academic music background without going into lecturing. When I was considering career options, I hadn't the confidence to consider teaching in HE, though in retrospect, I ought to have considered it. (No wish to be a professional performer!)
Define your job?
Dealing with all aspects of library provision for music staff and students. Also representing library on various committees in and outside the institution.
Can you walk me through your day to day activities?
Heaps of cataloguing; assisting readers with queries; handling external queries; selecting (and deselecting) stock; being available to advise library assistants when queries arise, eg in obtaining materials from suppliers or other libraries.
How has your job changed in the last 5 to 10 years?
More "customer-focused"; libraries have also become much more concerned about meeting the requirements of readers with special needs. Much more use of electronic resources, and encouraging staff and students to use what's there.
What are the key issues facing your sector?
Electronic resources. Diminishing budgets. Staff development.
How does government legislation affect your job?
Special needs legislation and copyright legislation are always priorities.
What impact has technology had on your job?
Hard to remember that 20 years ago, cataloguing meant writing on cards and handing them to a clerical assistant for typing in triplicate! Similarly, library circulation and cataloguing systems are hugely more sophisticated, and provide far more statistics as a result.
What are the best things and worst things about your job?
You can download cataloguing records for textbooks, but I catalogue all music and recordings from scratch, in order to be able to access (for example) all songs in an anthology – accuracy is essential, and fortunately I am a whizz at touch-typing, but sometimes the tedium is awesome. Best aspect is helping users obtain/ find what they need, and showing them how to get the most out of what is available to them.
Do you have any horror stories?
In my previous job, a borrower came in when I was alone in the department, and handed me a letter. It read, "I am Jesus Christ and am entitled to free video library membership". When I pointed out about "rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's", he described anatomically what I could do with my video library membership. Then, fortunately, stormed out.
What attributes do you need/ what are you looking for when hiring someone in your role?
I'm not in the position of hiring people. But you have to be accurate, patient, persistent, and people-focused. And enthusiastic.
What are your tips/ advice for those starting out?
There's reasonable job-satisfaction, but you won't get rich! Also – subject specialists aren't so common nowadays as they were. There aren't so many "scholar librarians". If you want promotion – aim for management responsibility rather than subject specialism.