You know when you renew your car insurance and suddenly it dawns on you that you have had your licence for in excess of 20 years, or you catch up with an old school friend and they are a parent and grandparent already? Well, both of those things have happened to me recently, leading to me asking myself ‘how can I be old enough for that to have happened?’ Another frightening reminder of the ever increasing passing of time has come with my annual membership renewal for the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). Apparently I have been professionally qualified for 18 years this year, and chartered for 13.
Reaching this little milestone calls for a moment of reflection, and I realise the diversity of the work I have done, and some of the ridiculous situations I have found myself in.
I have had the privilege of working in public, HE, and Government research libraries. I have found myself answering calls from panicked guinea pig owners who have discovered their precious pet has consumed vast quantities of polystyrene and need to know what to do. (I advised they should hang up from their call to me at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and call their local vet). I have supplied the latest daily information and research to Government vets, scientists and ministers desperately trying to manage the foot and mouth epidemic. I have given information to worried families to help them understand diagnoses, and travelled round Paris and its suburbs arranging collaborative book promotions of French / English literature in translation; and enjoying the wine and cheese (obviously!). More recently, I have stood in amazement as semi-naked mining students have charged through the Library in Rag Week, and then watched, equally stunned, as they in turn found their study space invaded by performing arts students intent on recreating scenes from Fame. (If you’re not old enough to remember the delightful Bruno, Doris and Mr Shorofsky I am sure YouTube can oblige).
No two days are the same when working in libraries, and you never quite know what is coming next. What is consistent though, is the important role they play in supporting, guiding, and most importantly empowering people to achieve their full potential. That’s why, whether I define myself as Librarian or Education Professional, I do what I do.