A day in the life of a library lead

To support our StoryParks initiative with Nottingham City Council for a second year and commitment to doing the right thing for our local communities, we have created a series of interviews from our Society and partners to showcase a range of interesting jobs that are out there to inspire children to investigate different careers!

This year, for Story Parks at Home in 2020's new normal we're bringing the libraries and the parks to everyone's homes via a revamped website and social media, including Facebook and Instagram. The website is packed full of great activities from bug-hunting and drumming to mindfulness and storytelling in a brand-new library, packed full of activities to engage and inspire your little ones at home.

As well as Park Rangers, Storytellers, rugby players and ice hockey players we've caught up with Jane Brierley, Library Lead for Nottingham City Council. 

Hi Jane, let's start at the very beginning - what was your first ever job? 
I had a summer job working in a factory that anodized metal. We would get various metal objects – the one I remember most was huge window frames for Australian trains - we had to clean them all up and then look for any bits that had been missed. If we found one, they had to be anodized again, and we had to clean them all again! It was quite dirty work and I kept hitting myself on the head with the window, so I was very glad to go back to university at the end of the summer.

Describe your job to us - what does a Library Lead actually do? 
My job is Library Lead for Stock and Resources. My focus is on stock, but we have other Library Leads who do different types of work and focus on areas of work including reading and literacy, health and well-being and employability.

This means I have an overall responsibility for coordinating the buying of adult and children’s resources for Nottingham City Libraries. This is mainly books but also includes maps, CDs, sheet music, newspapers, magazines and all the other stock that we buy for the library. It also includes services that can be used outside the library including eBooks, eMagazines, eAudio and online reference resources.

An important part of my job is making sure that we buy the right books to ensure that our libraries are inclusive and accessible. It is also part of my job to look at developing other services, and recently this has involved introducing e-agazines and e-audio titles. Once we have the right books, I then work with the libraries to find the best ways of promoting them and encouraging people to borrow them.

Another part of my job is helping to organise the annual Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Libraries‘ Readers’ Day that we hold each year.  This is an event for adults, and I work with a colleague to book great authors and other speakers and to programme a whole day of events.  Sometimes this has included doing talks myself - last year I did one on Wilkie Collins, who is one of my favourite authors.

Who or what was your inspiration for getting into the work that you do? 
I have always loved books, and I wanted to do a job that I felt was helping people so libraries seemed the ideal choice.

What steps did you take to get to where you are today?
I have a history degree, so I did a year on top of that to get a diploma in Librarianship.  After I had worked in libraries for a few years, I then became a Chartered Librarian. 

Describe a typical day in your job to us
It varies a lot.  Usually there are lots of emails to answer to start the day, from other libraries or from people who use the library. Sometimes I will get emails from local writers telling me about their books and whether we would consider them for the library. At the moment we are putting together our programme for Readers' Day, so I might be emailing a publisher to ask if an author is available and able to come and speak on the day. We have recently changed our eBooks supplier, so this week has involved visiting libraries to show them the new website and app and making sure they feel happy talking to our customers about it and showing them how to use it. While I am there it is also a good chance to look around the library, and talk to staff about stock and any ideas or suggestions that they might have. 

And of course, I do get to spend time actually ordering new books as well!

What’s the best thing about your job?
I love reading, and believe that reading is good for people’s health and well-being, so it is great being able to share that with other people, and hopefully encourage them to read and discover something new in their library. I also like knowing straight away when a favourite author has a new book coming out!

Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to be a Library Lead?
There are lots of different ways to work in a library, and lots of different types of library.  Libraries are changing, and if you want to work in a library, it is important to be willing to take on new roles, and help us to reach out to people and develop new services. We have lots of different volunteer roles in libraries which are a great way to find out more about the type of work that libraries do.

Do you have a life motto or a saying that you live by?
C.S Lewis said "
You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” Which I think probably sums me up!

What did you want to be when you were a kid? / What would be your Plan B?
I always fancied being a professional photographer.  My plan B would be to actually write a book - I have a great thriller written in my head, I just need to write it on paper one day.

How do you like to switch off outside of work?
Well I do read a lot (it really is a great way to switch off and relax) but I also enjoy gardening, knitting and going to the cinema and the theatre. I’m also currently hooked on Line of Duty!


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