Day in the Life of a Li­brar­ian

Wendy Kirk, 43, en­joys help­ing peo­ple find books that in­spire them...

No. 1 Magazine - - SCOTLAND’S NO.1 -

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

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