I am not technically a librarian. I have mentioned this before, in an excessively long post about the name of this blog, and it continues to be true. I lack a librarianship qualification, thus I am a simple library assistant. Well, senior library assistant, but still. And yet, within the next few weeks, I will complete the final assignments for my PgDip in Library and Information Studies, and at some point soon after that, I will hopefully hold a piece of paper in my hands which proves I hold a qualification accredited by the lovely people at CILIP – the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, formerly known as the Library Association.

And yet, if someone happened to receive an e-mail from me at the moment, at least an e-mail sent from my work account, the word librarian would appear very soon after my name. How can this be? Am I committing some horrendous library fraud, for which I will be strangled with cardigans or shushed to death? Thankfully not. I have simply been seconded. For three months, while a colleague/friend/fellow blogger recovers from surgery, my job title reads “Assistant Librarian (Acting)”, which is generally regarded to be about the most fitting job title anyone could find for me in the library world, if you take it to mean something that it clearly doesn’t mean, that is.

What the job actually entails is some degree of supervision for what seems like hundreds of staff (but is probably somewhat less), endless hours sweating over rotas, many meetings with sundry management-type librarians, dealing with moaning students, dealing with moaning library staff, creating library accounts for staff and external borrowers and generally keeping my fingers crossed that the front-line operations of the library can keep running. I’m also supposed to be organising various bits of training for an assortment of staff members.

This is not a job I would have applied for had it been permanent, and I made this very clear to my line manager and the head of department when they interviewed me for the secondment. However, it is a development opportunity, yes it is, much as I hate the phrase. Experience in a position of authority and responsibility can only help me further my librarianship career, and being in this post will make it easier for me to get involved with information skills training, an area which interests and excites me greatly. I’m certainly learning an awful lot as I go. Not least amongst the lessons learned is the fact that you really, really can’t please everyone, and that it’s not a disaster when not everyone agrees with something. It’s just life.

I’m acting up until June, by which point I hope to have gained some valuable experience and insight (oh, dear, I’m lapsing into meaningless interview-speak) and grasped hold of the next rung on the librarianship ladder. Of course, the fact that running off to train as an actor is starting to look more appealing than it ever has is rather distracting. For now, though, while I’m trapped in the library world as a result of my employer funding my studies, this is a step in the right direction. A decision to veer off at a bizarre angle can wait.

  1. I did have to smile when I saw your job title on an email the other day! It really is quite appropriate.

    Your third paragraph could become my new (accurate!) job description! 🙂

    I wish I was better at accepting that you can’t please everyone and that people not agreeing with things is just life. I know this, but it’s a lot easier said (or known) than done. Definitely a good, but potentially hard, lesson to learn.

  2. Of course, all power corrupts… if you are plotting to take over the library by June it probably is time to run away and join the theatre!

    • Teuchter
    • April 22nd, 2008

    Shouldn’t it be …

    “Assistant Librarian (Acting & Singing)” ? 🙂

    • Phil
    • April 23rd, 2008

    Your last paragaraph’s opener, I initially read as:
    “I’m acting up, till june” and wondered why you needed to be doing mischief till then.

    Then I reread it and put the punctuation in it’s correct place.

  3. Lilian, I’m sure you’d be pleased to have any written job description, but I suspect that anything which includes keeping fingers crossed as a key duty would not get past HR.

    How I wish I could get ‘Singing’ into my job title. One day, maybe! Sol, I promise to run far, far away if I even consider taking over the Library of Doom!

    And, Phil – whatever makes you think that I won’t ‘act up’ in both senses of the phrase? I am quite good a mild, but undetected naughtiness…

  4. That job title is glorious, isn’t it?


  1. September 27th, 2010

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