A day in the life of… a Library Assistant

A day in the life of

I’m Stephanie, a Library Assistant – as opposed to an Assistant Librarian or Faculty Librarian or any other kind of Librarian you may come across. I tend to think of the difference as like a Legal Secretary to a Lawyer or a Dental Assistant to a Dentist. Though, just to muddy the waters a bit, there are Library Assistants who happen to be qualified librarians too.

I’m currently based at the Conservatoire Music Library where my day can vary from sourcing and preparing the scores and printed music sets for nationwide or local orchestras and school choirs, to helping a young child from the Junior Department find a piece of music for his lesson from among our collection. Partnership working at its best 🙂 A library assistant role involves (but is not confined to) a lovely blend of customer service, admin, IT, marketing and advisory work and is definitely NOT limited to issuing and shelving books.

I know libraries are traditionally quiet places, and we do have areas that we keep for silent study. However, it’s not always possible here and it’s one of the things I love about the place, that you can be serving on the Help Desk but hear the Conservatoire students practising in the Adrian Boult Hall for one of their upcoming brilliant concerts (all of which are free to attend for BCU staff and students by the way). It’s never reached the levels of the old ‘Fame’ movie, but you do get occasional bursts of song from a student browsing the vocal section.

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I LOVE music and have tried my hand at various things. Hopefully you can see some of the range of instruments from the photo. Can’t say as I’ve got the hang of wind things – the Chinese flute has beaten me so far – I can get 2 nice clear notes maximum out of that and the harp/autoharp are on my ‘to learn’ list. I also love singing and have been in various choirs, music groups and even done backing vocals and helped with writing lyrics on occasion. My husband is a Birmingham Conservatoire alumnus student (composer and drummer) and if you listen hard enough – and long enough as it’s towards the end – you might hear some bits I did for a couple of his pieces. Samples are available here or free on Spotify (just search for Nostalgia for a Belief). Warning! Don’t have the volume too high! I gave my dad the shock of his life when the loud bit suddenly came in on ‘Shakespeare’s Violence’.

Music isn’t my only interest and I’ve tried to incorporate some of my main ones into the above photo.

I love making my own clothes so if you see me in an outfit that you haven’t seen on the high street, it may well be because I’ve made it myself. I made my own wedding dress and bridesmaids’ outfits – see photo for my adaptation of an Aquilano Rimondi design from Burda Style Jan 2014 magazine. It’s a shame the Library isn’t subscribed to that particular journal, though they do have many others, both e-journal and hard copy. Come to think of it, the Librarians are always open to suggestions from staff and students and may well order things for stock if budget and relevance allows.

I’ve had the pictured ‘Vogue: The Gown’ book on loan from the Curzon Library for quite a while now as it has some amazing dresses to draw inspiration from. I really intend to bring it back but it is such a wonderful one to keep referring to – if you want to see what I mean it’s really simple to reserve it on the catalogue and it will be back there waiting for you to collect it in super fast time. Likewise the ‘Manual of Scales or ‘Piano sight reading tests which I have on loan and which I’m not disciplined enough to be making as much use of as I should.

My other interests include:

  • Law – I love watching court cases, time permitting or reading trial transcripts.
  • Aromatherapy – I’m doing various courses and have started making my own cleaning products and toiletries.
  • Family history – I’ve been doing a lot of research on my ancestors and love discovering things such as WW1 war records or Coroners’ Inquests. The various e-resources of old newspapers which the library subscribes to is a valuable tool for this.
  • Reading – of course! I’m currently reading ‘Diary of Annie’s War’ which is the diary of an English woman who was living in Germany during the First World War. I was making my way through Pepys’ diaries too – all of which are available to borrow from BCU stock.
  • Languages – I can get by in Greek, German and French and need a smattering of knowledge of Italian, Spanish and Russian to help with working with the music stock.
  • The obligatory little cat – in my case, Mr Tibbs – which no self-respecting librarian (sorry library assistant) can live without.

^Posted on behalf of Stephanie Fowler