Canterbury Tales: Week Two, March

Week two in Canterbury! Here’s how my week’s shaped up…

Goodbye Brighton

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Beautiful Kemptown

As proper farewells go, returning to Brighton to sort out the flat for one last time was pretty anticlimactic – I’ve always found it’s easier to just pretend it’s not really A Thing rather than saying goodbye. I came up from Canterbury for the day, but C was really ill so we tried (and failed) to get everything done in an afternoon.

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But oh, Brighton was sunny and lovely and busy and beautiful. It’ll always be home, and I can’t wait to go back in the summer. It’s such a part of who I am, I can’t imagine finally saying goodbye. So I’m not going to.

The New Commute

One thing I’ve been most looking forward to about moving to Canterbury is ditching my commute for something a little less stress inducing: much as I loved Kemptown in Brighton, it took 45 minutes – 1 hour by bus to get to work. (I could have walked, but it would have taken about an hour!) The buses often got crowded (particularly if you had to join at Old Steine) and getting home at the start of term was a relative nightmare.

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In Canterbury, however, it’s just a 25 minute walk to my new workplace – and the route is lovely! I can go cross country through Chaucer Fields, which are the ‘buffer’ between campus and the rest of town. It’s particularly lovely at the moment as spring is finally kicking in, and it’s really nice to get some exercise into the bargain.

The New Job

It’s always a memorable start to your new role when your first day falls on an all-library-staff meeting that takes place in a conference centre on the other side of campus…! It was quite funny, trying to contribute to activities where you’re so new that the words people are saying just about make sense.

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First week baking

It’s been a fantastic week though, and I’m very excited to get stuck into my role. One of the more challenging things I’ve found is getting used to the terminology Kent uses and how that works in relation to Sussex – even terms like ‘IT Services’ and ‘Intranet’ mean very different things here. After six years (and then three as a student) at Sussex, it’s refreshing and head-spinning to get used to how a different university does things – even if you’re fairly used to HE land, there are huge variations!

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Kent’s Conservative Association: blinding lefties with Thatcher statues

My new colleagues, luckily, are all just as lovely as I’d hoped and this is making everything a lot easier. Plus, one of the joys of working with special collections and archives is that it’s basically necessary to spend time getting to know all the cool stuff you now get to use… 😀

The New City

Now that I can get to and from work without getting lost and know where the Cathedral is in relation to most things, the important stuff can begin: exploring the best pubs, restaurants and places to hang out!

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New haircut selfie. Necessary for city exploring

On Wednesday I went out with said new colleagues. First stop? The Goods Shed, which is essentially the place where all my foodie-aspiration dreams go to get new ideas. The Goods Shed is part restaurant and bar, part local farmer’s market – and it’s just heaven. Their cocktails are some of the best I’ve ever tasted and the atmosphere is lovely. I think I’ll be back here a lot!

My other current favourite place is a really chilled out night venue called The Chocolate Cafe, which (predictably) serves many chocolate things until 11pm! It’s really nice to find somewhere that’s not a bar/club open so late, and it’s really nearby too. Again the vibe was  great – I need to go again soon 😀

What’s next: This weekend, C (and the fish) moves in! I can’t wait! Otherwise, I’ll be spending the time trying to shake off the horrible cold I’ve inevitably acquired…

 

 

Ch-ch-changes: January 2016

I spent a lot of time last year reading about adventure, taking brave steps, leaping off into the unknown, following your heart. “Aw, wouldn’t a new adventure be fun,” I thought. “But…” …there’s always a ‘but’, I find. And in Brighton, this glorious city of sunshine and creativity and vibrancy, there’s always a reason to stay.

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Brighton, from Kemptown, 2015

The start of 2016 brought a quiet resolution to continue looking for work a bit more solidly than last year. I’ve been in my current role for six years and desperately need a new challenge. I love what I do, I love the people, I love the buzz of showing people the really cool material I get to work with. But it’s been my first job out of university; staying in one place forever is quite unlikely, much as I’d love to stay.

It’s the first week of February and I’ve just handed in my resignation from the first place I’ve ever worked full time. I’m moving to Canterbury for (at least) a year, having accepted a job offer at the wonderful Templeman Library, University of Kent! It’s my dream role, and exactly the one I needed to progress in my field of work.

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Canterbury Cathedral

I am ridiculously excited for this change – I never feel more alive when planning the future – but I’m also terrified. This is probably a sign that it’s the right point to go; change is healthy, it’s good for you. And I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner.

And, oh, I have so much to learn! I’ve got to plan a move for two people across counties, find somewhere to live, continue my MA, make new friends and keep seeing the people I love, discover somewhere new. I’m going to write more here and document the year too.

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It wouldn’t be a Brighton post without a West Pier photo…

One thing I do know: just as Oxford defined me a lot in Brighton, so Brighton will define me a lot in Canterbury. You wear your cities with you, carry them in your heart. And you can always return.

So, 2016, what’s next?

 

 

2013 in review

The end of the year is always a good time for reflection – ‘best of’ posts fill social media and news sites – and with the long Christmas break, I’ve been having a ponder on how 2013 was in regards to my career.

Library-land is an interesting place to be at the moment, particularly for us early careerists. Although I’ve not had any significant promotions, I’ve been developing skills and making the most of professional training to ensure that when the ideal role does arise for me, I’ll be well-equipped to leap for it!

Librarian badge from when I was at secondary school - clearly a hint of things to come!
Librarian badge from when I was at secondary school – clearly a hint of things to come!

This blog has been somewhat neglected this year, but my career has been much busier. So, this year I:

* Finished my secondment in Special Collections and, after a brief return to my original department, successfully applied for a transfer to Research Support! I now work in Collection Development and am really enjoying getting to know a different side of library work; the role also means I support Special Collections in their gorgeous new home when needed.
* Joined CILIP as an Affiliate Member and became a member of the brilliant LIHG and RBSCG special interest groups
* Attended numerous conferences and workshops, including the LIHG conference, ‘Libraries in the Public Sphere: How the past informs the present and the future’ and the GLAM symposium, ‘Cataloguing Creativity’.
* Wrote a review of an excellent historical bookbindings workshop which was published in the Summer RBSCG newsletter
* Learnt a great deal about cataloguing rare books, thanks to fantastic training by Renae Satterley and Lucy Evans
* Spent a Saturday learning about special collections held in public libraries – and tried food made from recipes found in early modern notebooks!
* Engaged with many more librarians and archivists via the magical medium that is Twitter
* Began studying a part time distance learning postgraduate course on Rare Books Librarianship at the University of Aberystwyth, giving me much needed theory behind the practice
* Attended some beautiful manuscript, archival and rare book exhibitions, notably the fantastic ‘Putting Scotland on the Map: The world of John Bartholomew and Son’ at the NLS and the wonderful ‘Magical Books: From the Middle Ages to Middle-Earth’ at the Bodleian Library

In short, it’s been a tremendously fun year – I’ve become even more convinced that Special Collections librarianship is where I want to be, gained a lot of technical skills and theory needed to progress and met some brilliant people along the way.

Exploring Manchester after the LIHG Conference
Postcard from an exhibition at the NLS
Postcard from an exhibition at the NLS
Early morning start at Lambeth Palace Library for a historical bookbindings workshop
Early morning start at Lambeth Palace Library for a historical bookbindings workshop

 

Outside of work, I managed to move house (books first, of course) and begin the GirlGuiding Leadership Qualification to become a full and proper Brown Owl! I’m really hoping to be able to introduce my Brownies to the wonderful world of archives and rare books next year, too.

Looking forward to the next year, I hope to be as busy and engaged as I have been in 2013. I would really like to update this blog more often as well, so if you see more posts here then consider that my resolution completed! Realistically, though, by the end of next year I hope to have begun my MA in Information and Library Studies at the University of Aberystwyth – a much needed step in any librarian’s career. I can’t wait to get started!

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The future is books (and pencils, and many notes…)

What about you? Have you got any particular goals for your career next year? Any thoughts on how 2013 went? Get in touch!

5 Things To Do To Ace Your Job Interview

So, I had a job interview recently. It was the first one I’d had for a while. It was particularly nervewracking for me because a) the job was a big step up from my current role and b) it was in a completely different institution.

But you know what? I actually really enjoyed the experience! Even if the outcome wasn’t what I hoped for, I had a great time. So what did I do beforehand to help calm my nerves?

1) Research, research, research

A Level History habits die hard
Learning about your potential employer is even more enjoyable if you use colour!

Knowing about your prospective employers is a brilliant way to help remove your job interview fear. Sometimes this research is part of the interview process (i.e. if you have to give a presentation), but more often than not it’s secondary, and very easy to overlook.

What to research? Find out about the department you’re hoping to work for: who they are, where your role would fit in, what projects they’re working on, who they’re supporting and how. For library/archive jobs, uncover what they hold. Explore their catalogues online. Learn about the institution: its history, how many people study/work there, what its strengths are and its values and strengths.

Why is researching so important? Because it helps level the playing field between you and your potential employers! You probably won’t be asked about all you know, but knowledge is a massive confidence booster. If you can drop in a little of what you’ve learnt as part of a response – or as one of the questions you ask them – it impresses. Additionally, it helps you decide if the job is right for you – and that’s a massive part of the interview process that often gets overlooked.

2) Ask your colleagues

This is a bit of a tricky one, and obviously it depends on your reasons for wanting to leave your current job. But if your reasons for leaving are more along the ‘wanting-to-develop-career’ lines rather than ‘I-would-rather-be-working-in-a-sewage-factory’ vibe, then getting your colleagues’ support can be hugely beneficial.

What to ask them? Anything you feel comfortable with! Ask if you can have a mock interview, find people to listen to your presentation, consult people who work in the area you’d like to be in or at the career level you’d like to aim for.

More often than not, people are flattered to be asked for advice. I have found librarians in particular to be very friendly and helpful in this respect – everyone knows how tough it can be to develop a career in this field. If you are willing to be flexible with your time, other people can often squeeze you in for a coffee – and even if they can’t help you directly, you’ve probably gained a new contact for the future! Yay!

3) Make a break of it

Quick museum snapping :(
I like to hang out with T-Rex casts in my spare time; how do you unwind?

Whether you have to travel 5 minutes or 5 hours for a job interview, I really recommend scheduling in something fun to do after the interview. If you’re travelling to a new place, try and make a weekend of it. If your interview is nearby, treat yourself to something (gig/pub/food/friends) after it’s over. That way, you have something to look forward to – and, with any luck, some excellent memories of the whole interview period 🙂

4) Dress for success…with your style

Whenever I find out I’ve been selected for interview, I am inundated with helpful friends trying to offer me advice on what to wear. Whilst such advice is really appreciated, after a while it just has my head in a spin. As someone whose normal style is ‘look a little bit like a rainbow exploded on you, in a co-ordinated kind of way’, job interviews tend to scare the heck out of me.

Should I go for super-conservative? Super businessy, fitted suit and everything? Can I get away with a bit of colour or will that look bad? Should I redye my hair so the roots don’t show? What about tights? Arrrgh.

Oh the dilemmas...
Sadly, this wasn’t my biggest concern pre interview!
Image from http://www.xl-images.uktights.com.

In the end, I compromised. I dragged my lovely boyfriend out with me to buy the main suit bit, and he was excellent at veering me away from the green-and-black-dresses I wanted. But I didn’t go for a skirt and blouse, as that’s just not me. In the end, a simple dress won the day, with smart heels, a black blazer and a bracelet based on a rare book design.

And blue tights and a cyan glittery scarf, just to make me smile 🙂

5) Smile!

I read in Richard Wiseman’s excellent book 59 Seconds that positivity can make a really big impact on potential employers. People are drawn to happy people, particularly if they’re wondering how well you work in a team.

Naturally smiling when I’m terrified isn’t something I’m very good at. But on the day, I beamed at anyone I came into contact with. With excellent support from friends and family, and confidence in the preparation I’d done beforehand, I was genuinely excited.

All that smiling? Well, I don’t know how it affected the panel I faced, but it certainly made me feel great! I came out of that meeting room feeling like I’d done my best, learnt a lot and had fun. Who knew that job interviews could actually be a really constructive experience? 🙂