Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Former Librarian #15

Former Librarian #15 is a little different as she is currently working as a volunteer in 2 different capacities and a tutor. I thought that although this emphasis on volunteer work does not directly relate to finding employment beyond libraries, it is worth including as she is very clear that the skills gained in her library work directly contribute to the success in her current roles.

Current role: Volunteer (Project Manager of a Trussell Trust Foodbank; Tutor (Piano, Music Theory, Math & English); Volunteer Family Learning Centre Coordinator (for a Baptist Church); Recording Secretary and activist for a local Neighbourhood Forum.

Former role: Community Librarian (working for the Birmingham City Council) managing 2 libraries in the east of the city (3 by the time I left). My role was to promote reading and learning activities to all ages using a range of programmes and inventiveness to encourage library usage and book borrowing.

What led you to move on from libraries? I left Libraries because the role and job was gradually being undermined, as a profession and as an essential area of influence in the leisure, learning & community cohesion sector.

What do you do in your current role? With 3 roles on the go, my first is to inspire young people to learn – so I teach piano & music theory skills from an early age and currently help with 11+ preparations (including reading skills). I do this alongside developing a church site as a place of learning & leisure through community engagement; As a volunteer Project Manager for a Trussell Trust Franchise, I researched foodbank business for a group of churches and set one up from ‘scratch’ and now two years in, turning over 25+ tonnes of donated food and feeding over 2000 local people while supporting other feeding charities. As in Library work where developing a trained team through 1-2-1 coaching, group sessions or external provision, is now part and parcel of the role of equipping the 50+ volunteers to provide support for foodbank volunteers and in the case of the learning centre coordinator, the same in safeguarding & health & safety.

What library skills do you use in your current role? The Skills I used to function as a library manager include – Operations management (H & S); Building management; Trainer; Public speaking; Bid writing, People Management; Negotiating; PR; Customer care; Team/Community work; IT skills (own admin; ppt presentations; database; leaflet designs and production); Event planning & management; liaising with councillors and other elected members, and a host of professionals (from children’s centres, schools, community groups etc)….various skills for the 3 roles.

Do you think that your library skills helped you to get this position? As a volunteer, the skills I practiced running 3 libraries are still valuable and well used in what I do now, especially in my role as a project manager, learning centre coordinator and community activist.

What other skills have you had to acquire since leaving the library profession in order to enable you to carry out your work? I have to troubleshoot my own IT problems; recently learnt more about website management and social media know-how (PR for the foodbank and neighbourhood forum).

Do you maintain any professional memberships or are there new ones which are more appropriate? I chose not to cancel my ‘Library Association’ membership. I am still a paid up full associate member of CILIP (as if I was still employed). Currently renewing my Institute of Customer Services Membership.

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