I have two completely separate jobs – for part of the week I am a web developer and information architect running my own company with my designer/coder partner. I also work part-time as a Senior Library Assistant for a county library authority single-staffing a very small branch library. These roles might seem disparate but at heart they’re both based on exactly the same principle – advocating for users and making sure they can access the information that they need to go about their lives. My particular areas of interest are usability and web standards, information services, digital literacy and local studies. Before I moved into the world of information management I was a newspaper reporter then a website content manager.
I am studying part-time for a MSc in Information and Library Management by distance learning with Northumbria University, a course I am enjoying very much and would recommend. I am currently in the third semester of the first year and currently working on a module on collection development. For my dissertation I’m planning to investigate the project to digitise cultural resources for The People’s Network and to find out what became of those resources. I think it would have been very difficult to make the most of this course without current employment in a fairly conventional information role.
I am Secretary of the CILIP East Members’ Network, an organiser of the upcoming Library Camp East unconference, a sometime campaigner and advocate for public library services and a member of the local government trade union UNISON. I’m also a member of my local WI and I recommend this organisation to library campaigners everywhere – they’re doing some of the best advocacy work out there and work tirelessly on behalf of women everywhere. I have done some volunteering for organisations in the arts and museums sector but tend to agonise these days about crossing that ethical line where I realise that I’m doing someone else’s job for free and without any of their hard-won expertise or experience.
I think we need to move the conversation away from the cost of libraries and towards their value. I want to talk about the role of public space in forging communities, and to question the narrative of public transport, public housing, leisure centres and libraries as places of last resort for those who can’t afford to run cars or take on huge mortgages, pay for gym subscriptions or patronise expensive bookshops that took their design ethos from libraries in the first place. I believe paid, trained and qualified staff are at the heart of any library or information service. I’m far more interested in building links and commonalities between sectors than filing us all in different silos. And I’m interested in joining in with the Library Voices project to try to get across the wealth of things our profession has to offer, stretching far beyond format or job title. I think education is the answer to most things, if not everything.
I read constantly and very widely, and keep trying to write a book blog – but I read books faster than I can possibly review them. The staff library card is my favourite perk of the job. My hobbies include an over-developed interest in cricket, as well as outdoor swimming, knitting, Nordic Noir and geocaching. I tweet at @myweeklybook and have a blog at http://ljhutchins.tumblr.com/. You can find out more about the information architect side of my work in the career profiles section of the CILIP website.
And finally, the necessary disclaimer: all views expressed here are my own and not those of my company, my employer, my university, or any organisation that I am affiliated with. Not, in fact, those of anyone other than myself.