Age: 27 years old
Degree and university: BSc Applied and Human Biology, Aston University (graduated in 2004)
Work Title: Library Assistant at Birmingham City University.
What is it you actually do? My role includes receiving and dispatching books. There is a lot of cash handling involved as we must sell publications and promotional materials, as well as dealing with fines, which requires a very objective and diplomatic approach. I also enrol new members and cancel memberships. I have full knowledge of the Data Protection Act which allows me to input and amend records. On a daily basis I am responsible for preparing the library for opening and closing. I repair damaged books and I cover books so that the books have a longer life span. In addition to this I discard old materials. I shelve books according to the Dewey classification system and generally tidy the library.
Why did you decide to stay in the West Midlands after graduation? The West Midlands has a vast array of job opportunities and so I decided to settle in Birmingham. Furthermore there are many academic institutions in and around Birmingham.
Why did you decide to go into this sector? After going through further education, evening classes at Adult Education, and then through to higher education, I definitely knew that working in Education would definitely be my niche. Furthermore, the library is the centre of learning in any institution and I am proud to say that I am at the heart of this learning and discovery. I am committed to education and working at the library enables me to socialise with staff and students. I get to learn about different cultures and meet people from a great range of backgrounds, especially from international students.
What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides? I enjoy a challenge. My job is mostly about finding things; it’s like digging up clues and when you actually find the information members require it feels fabulous. Nobody goes into library work for the money, that’s the biggest downside, also I work mainly evenings and weekends. Having said that I wouldn’t swap my work for anything else!
What skills do you need to succeed? One of the most important skills required is that of communication. It takes time for your listening and verbal skills to develop. The customer service skills required extend not only to students and staff but also your own colleagues.
What advice would you give other graduates coming into this sector? If you want to get into library work, it’s important that you take additional qualifications in Information Computer Technology. Undertake voluntary work with groups of people and work on the impact of your voice. There is a lot of physical effort required, such as packing boxes of books to send to other campus libraries and shelving. The constant movement makes my work interesting as it is not just about sitting at a library counter or in front of a computer screen.