Day in the Life of a Librarian
Wendy Kirk, 43, enjoys helping people find books that inspire them...
I’ve always loved books, reading and working with people. At the age of 20 I had an epiphany and thought ‘What can I do that will mix those two things?’ I then became a librarian and I now work at Glasgow Women’s Library and organise book events and reading groups.
I’ll usually get up about 6:30am, and have toast and jam for breakfast with about three cups of tea.
We don’t have a uniform which is great, and I dress quite casual. I like not having a uniform, you get to see what everyone else is wearing. Some of my colleagues have great style so I always take inspiration from them.
I like to get into the library early as I’m a morning person, so I aim to get there for 8am.
I cycle into work, which can either be a high point or a low point depending on the weather.
The Glasgow Women’s Library was set up by volunteers and with no book budget at all.
We still have no book budget, so everything that we get is donated which I think gives the library a lovely sense of growing from grassroots upwards. Even though we survive solely on donations, it’s still going. People have a real sense of ownership that it’s their library because they’ve built it. I love that aspect of it.
The first thing I would do in the morning is look at all the parcels that are on my desk.
These are normally new books that have arrived, which are donations. I enjoy having a wee rummage through all the stuff on my desk. I’ll then check my emails and begin managing the lending library to see what we have available for readers that day.
I love helping people find books that inspire them.
Being able to support people, especially those who struggle with reading, is a very rewarding part of the job. Helping people to connect with the right book at the right time in their lives is such a pleasure. When someone comes in and they’re hunting for a book or going through a difficult period of their life, and we’re able to recommend a book, it can make a massive difference to them.
Every Thursday, for the past five years, I organise a readaloud group called ‘Story Café.’
Women Wo get together to read out different short stories and poems, and then we discuss it afterwards. af It not only gives people the chance to listen to stories and socialise, but allows them to try out different genres that they wouldn’t necessarily feel fe confident about trying on their own. We try to branch people’s people horizons with writers from all over the world and of different styles by exposing all sorts of writing. Also, I think it’s it important that the group is free. Some So people might not be able to afford to go to something like the Edinburgh Book Festival to see an author live, but the fact that we have it free here makes it really accessible to everyone.
Our library is absolutely not quiet.
People come in and the first thing we do is greet them, we’re really proud of offering people a warm welcome. We offer people a cup of tea too, so that misconception of not being able to eat in a library isn’t true either. We also have a learning programme which boasts a great collection, including an archive section. We have creative writing workshops, art collections, film screenings, so much on to help people learn in the library. People don’t realise that the library isn’t just about ‘reading a book.’
Every day is different for me.
Some days I’ll have meetings or be planning ahead for future events. I could also be liaising with authors that are planning to come in, or be doing research enquiries. There’s really no set pattern, except for my story café at 12pm-3pm on a Thursday. I would definitely rather be out and about, working in the library with the books and people than being stuck behind a computer.
I love being able to help people branch out from their ‘reading’ comfort zone and to expand their knowledge.
Being able to encourage and support them is really rewarding. Also, for people to come back and say ‘that book you recommended really helped with my essay’ or ‘it’s really got me into that kind of writing’ is great to hear.
In the evening or my spare time,
I like to (yes, you’ve guessed it!) read. I quite often read, have a relaxing bath or watch a boxset on TV.
Empowering women is one of Glasgow Women’s Library’s key aims, and support thousands of women across Scotland every year to improve their lives through their services and programmes. Find out more here: https://womenslibrary.org.uk