Penelope Dunn, Learning Resource Specialist, Rotherham College of Art & Technology

Why I support libraries…

Penelope Dunn, Learning Resource Specialist, Rotherham College of Art & Technology

Penelope Dunn, Learning Resource Specialist, Rotherham College of Art & Technology

I went to a primary school where we would have story time for the last 15 minutes of everyday and I think this helped foster my love of books and reading – the school library (although small & unstaffed) was a gateway to all the stories our teachers read to us and more. It provided mainly fiction (and reading level) books but I still found something new and interesting every time I visited.

As I got older and I began to borrow books from friends and family I used the library service less for getting access to book and more for other activities – I can remember going to the public library for summer holiday club – my favourite memory is learning about space and making rockets! The public library truly is a unique and constantly evolving resource and I think Neil Gaiman summed up the closure of public libraries perfectly, in his Reading Agency lecture last week: “it is the equivalent of stopping vaccination programmes.” Libraries (particularly public) allow service users to open doors that may have previously been shut to them.

Libraries later went on to provide me with the academic resources needed to complete my higher education and without the university libraries I would not have passed any of my courses.

Just in my 20 years use of libraries they have changed immensely, they are always willing to adapt and embrace new technologies; however they are still, too often, tarred with the “libraries are redundant” brush. Quite often the people, who think the age of libraries is over, do not even know where there local library is, let alone know what services it offers. To be honest, I do not use the public library service as much as I used too (I mainly use the online resources rather than print) but I still believe it is a cornerstone of society and I would hate for it to be lost to those who rely upon it.

For me, libraries have primarily been about education and reading for pleasure however, having worked in three different branches of the education sector (secondary, HE & now FE) I now fully understand there is an endless remit of activities for libraries. Supporting education and development is the primary focus but quite often I find myself having a pastoral and motivational role. No matter what job you have a in a library you are never just the one who stamps the books. Whether it is the profession’s culture or just the nature of those who choose to work in libraries but they (we) are always happy to help in any way they (we) can, even if the query is beyond the obvious remit. The learning centres at RCAT are often a haven for students struggling with college or home life – it is a neutral and welcoming space that allows them to complete their studies as well as nurturing their ambition and self-belief.

I wanted to tweet as @voiceslibrary for a week to raise the profile of FE libraries, sometimes they can be forgotten and I wanted to share some of the challenges we face and the ways we are trying to overcome them.

Penelope usually tweets as @lady_PGD

One thought on “Penelope Dunn, Learning Resource Specialist, Rotherham College of Art & Technology

  1. Dr Malcolm Rigler

    Yes it is so important that for learners that the library should be a place that is safe and where the emotional support that so many people need these days , people of all ages, is available. As an NHS GP I see this aspect of libraries as being very important . The NHS should be contributing to the funding of libraries for this very reason. The “libraries and health” agenda needs to be taken much more seriously by both senior librarians and the NHS ( now CCGs). Malcolm

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