Twitter Takeover : Tuesday : Librarian, Horniman Museum : Helen Williamson

Picture of Helen Williamson, the  Librarian based at  Horniman Museum

Helen Williamson, Librarian, Horniman Museum

I’m the librarian at the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill.  I started as library assistant here in 2009 and became the sole member of library staff in 2010, then the solo librarian in 2011.  The library was threatened with closure in 2010, when the museum was affected by budget cuts inflicted by the new government.

Over the course of the winter of 2010/2011, I managed to ensure the library’s future and set it on a new course, focussing on our historic collections and the library collection’s connection, and relevance, to the museum’s object collections.

I now juggle all aspects of library work, from checking in journals, cataloguing, assisting researchers, to working with curators on exhibitions and giving tours of the eco building the library is housed in.

I want to raise the profile of the library here and the significance of our collections.  I also enjoy using Twitter as a way to connect to the wider library community, especially as I sit here alone most of the time!  Also you don’t often hear much about museum librarians, so I thought it would be nice to give a bit of insight in to our work.

Horniman Library

Horniman Library

This is a really interesting time for the library and the museum.  I am currently carrying out a review of all of the books in the original Horniman bequest (from Frederick Horniman, our founder), with a view to future work and funding bids.  The museum is also carrying out two major reviews: one of our Natural History collections and another of our Anthropology collections.  All of it is bringing to light fascinating material and stories about our history that are going to be very influential on our future.   Although, in many respects, things are worse than ever for museums at the moment, I think the necessity for introspection it has brought about is resulting in some really exciting work.

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2 thoughts on “Twitter Takeover : Tuesday : Librarian, Horniman Museum : Helen Williamson

  1. Vicky Hibberd

    But the library is not mentioned at all on the Museum website. Why is this? And it’s not open to the public. As a librarian myself, I am always very disappointed when museums’ and other libraries are closed to the public. I had to walk right past your door when I visited the museum a few years ago and stared sadly into it – not allowed in : (. It’s all very well working on convincing the funders of the relevance of the library to the collection, but why not extend that to the public too?

  2. JoRichardson Post author

    Thanks for your comment and interest in the museum collection, Vicky. We did provide a link to the museum collections in the post above, I’m sorry if this wasn’t clearly signposted. I passed your comment on to Helen Williamson, Librarian at the museum. Her response is below:

    “Hi Vicky,

    Thanks for your comment. Details of the library can be found on the museum website here – – and you can search our library catalogue there too. The library is predominantly a resource for the museum’s staff but is also open to the public who can make an appointment to consult our collections. Due to current staffing levels we cannot offer drop-in visits but we did hold an open day recently to celebrate National Libraries Day and there are plans to schedule days like this on a more regular basis.

    Best wishes, Helen Williamson”

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