Opinion: Just what does a librarian do?

Posted 10 May 2016 by Suzanne Hudson in Opinion

It's no longer all 'shhhhhhhhh!' in todays libraries. Oldham's Suzanne Hudson gives an insight into a busy North West library service:

Forgive me for stereotyping, but when you inform people that you work in a library, you usually get one of the following responses:

“Oh wow! I’d love to sit reading all day!”

“How wonderful to work in peace and quiet”

“It must be nice to read stories to children and get paid for it”

Sometimes, I just smile sweetly as if in agreement.

At other times, I feel compelled to share just how much libraries have to offer and how varied my role can be. Walk into any library on any given day and you could find a group of parents and their babies enjoying live musicians singing lullabies; people finding the confidence and skills to get online; a storytelling workshop for people with dementia; a Business Breakfast; Lego Club; a Read Aloud reading group; an evening with a bestselling author; a live theatre show or a music gig, to name just a handful!

No, I do not sit reading quietly and stamping the occasional book in a library where you can hear a pin drop. I am putting together programmes of activity to inspire and encourage reading and library visits and any reading is done in my spare time!

I am proud to say that here in Oldham we are celebrating the first full year of live@thelibrary with our biggest and most ambitious season that includes Richard Burton’s nephew, Guy Masterson in Under Milk Wood, bestselling crime writer Peter Robinson, a month of new writing, and a feast of children’s theatre featuring Roald Dahl’s The Twits and two enchanting Hans Christian Andersen stories The Nightingale and The Ugly Duckling.

Since the programme began, we have welcomed 4545 live@thelibrary visitors and worked with over 450 artists. In a few weeks I will be gearing up for Bookmark 2016, our annual literature festival, spending the week with poet Simon Armitage, former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis, Bake Off finalist Luis Troyano, and CBeebies favourite Andy Day. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!

So, next time you comment on a librarian’s role, tread carefully. You may get the sharp end of their tongue or, if you’re lucky, just like a new book you’re about to delve into, who knows what new worlds they can take you to!

Suzanne Hudson is the Library Development Officer for Oldham Libraries. www.oldham.gov.uk/bookmark


North West Libraries

Librarians in the North West have pioneered partnership working to encourage new readers into libraries. Time To Read is a partnership of librarians engaged in reader development activity in public library authorities in the North West Region. 22 public library authorities in the region currently support Time To Read.

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