This month, Charlotte Gibbons writes a little about her current role as a Library Intern at South Devon College. Find her tweeting @C_Gibbons2005
Like many people, libraries have been a staple in my life, both inside and outside of education. However, my first role in a library came not from a burning desire or sense of calling, but from a need to supplement my student loan, which I studied for my BA in English and Classical Studies at Royal Holloway, and a mild enjoyment of my experiences in Libraries growing up. I had been accepted with a scholarship for the London Rare Book School’s summer schedule on ‘The Medieval Book’, where I had the opportunity to get hands-on experience in Special Collections.
After this I was planning to study an MA in Religious Studies when I finished my degree with a sparkly 2:1. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. I left Royal Holloway with a 2:2 after missing a final exam, and suddenly my plans were forced to change.
I knew I wanted to work somewhere where I could help others, and I had enjoyed my Saturday job in the local public library, so after a few weeks wallowing in self-pity, feeling disheartened that an MA seemed impossible, I knuckled down looking for Graduate Traineeships and entry level positions.
When an Internship at my old college, South Devon College, appeared on LinkedIn, I jumped at the chance to get experience in an academic library where I could stay close to home. A decent knowledge of functioning libraries, a couple years of customer service jobs, and a big smiley face made me a strong candidate despite my nerves at being back at College.
The LRC (Learning Resource Centre, a fancy term for library; after all it’s not all about books in today’s world) encompasses 2 floors as well as outreach centres across the local area. Whilst not huge in comparison to some Higher Education institutions it allows me the opportunity to know learners individually, as well as getting to grips with all that the LRC has to offer. My role is varied: one day can go from creating and putting up displays, to managing inter-library loans with Plymouth University and the British Library, to managing student behaviour. No two days are the same, and everything from shelving to fixing the PCs is in my domain. Alongside front of house librarianship I also have the opportunity to complete small projects such as recreating an old Student Equality Space in conjunction with the Student’s Union and College Wellbeing team.
From my internship I now have the confidence to know that I can work in libraries, and that whilst the profession routes and funding may be shrinking, there are opportunities for people like myself if you look for them. I’m now considering doing a Masters through a Part Time or Distance Learning route, and while I know that my dream of conserving rare books is still a while off, it’s not impossible. I don’t know how long the MA will take, or what exactly I’ll do whilst I study for it, but I know that leaving South Devon College as a member of staff will be just as hard as leaving when I was a student all those years ago.