Category Archives: Voices twitter takeover

Lisa Hutchins, web developer/public library assistant, North Hertfordshire

Lisa Hutchins, library assistant / web developer

Lisa Hutchins, library assistant / web developer

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 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.

Shirley Burnham, Library Campaigner, Old Town Library, Swindon

Shirley Burnham, Library Campaigner, Old Town Library, Swindon

Shirley Burnham, Library Campaigner, Old Town Library, Swindon

Who am I?
My name is Shirley Burnham and I will be the curator for @voiceslibrary for the week beginning 1st July

What am I doing now?
I am retired from paid employment.  You should be aware that I’ve never worked for the Library Service.  I lead a campaign to protect my own library in Swindon, as well as advocating for public libraries in general.

What’s my background?
Secretarial college, SRN nursing training and then an American university – some of these unfinished.  But by using initiative and drawing on these elements of training, I’ve had many and varied jobs – the worst as a chicken-plucker in a Utah processing plant.

Anything else?
Residence in the Republic of Honduras from 1976-83 allowed me to write, illustrate and publish numerous textbooks for children and adults, teach a series of English courses on Honduran national radio and run a correspondence course for workers on banana plantations.

How did I get into Library campaigning?
I became aware when borrowing some books one day in late 2007 that Old Town Library in Swindon was under threat of closure.  I got up a petition, local people and the local media rallied round.  Swindon BC finally had a change of heart, so our library is still open with its paid staff today.

What do I think of public libraries?
That they are a fantastic, unique resource;  that they must remain as *public libraries*;  that their paid staff are essential and that branch libraries, however small, must be recognised by the great and the good as the sole means of making the Service accessible to everyone.

What will I tweet about?
I’d like to share some of the things I have learned whilst campaigning for my own and other libraries and explain how,  over the years, many of my preconceptions about who or what might be helpful in this struggle have been turned on their heads.   The situation for libraries seems impossibly dire at the moment which means I can get awfully cross.  I hope I might also make you smile.

Want to contact me?
It would help me considerably if you can respond to tweets or ask me for specific info – so that I can be fortified to maintain your interest for the whole week.  I am happy to go off on any tangent that might be suggested by you;  in fact I would welcome it.   You can find me on Twitter as @shirleyburnham and I have a website ( .  The latter holds an archive of news articles from 2007 to the present which, I’ve been told, can be a useful resource for bloggers and campaigners.

Please note that any comments I make are my own views only.

Cara Clarke, Systems Librarian, North Warwickshire and Hinckley College

Cara Clarke, Systems Librarian at North Warwickshire and Hinckley College

Cara Clarke, Systems Librarian at North Warwickshire and Hinckley College

Who am I?
My name is Cara Clarke and I’ll be the curator for @voiceslibrary for the week beginning Monday 24th June.

What do I do?
I work as Systems Librarian at North Warwickshire and Hinckley College. Before I started this job, I didn’t know what ‘Systems Librarian’ entailed, and if you too are unsure I hope my week as curator will help answer any questions you may have. In a nutshell, I work mostly behind-the-scenes rather than front-of-house. I manage any systems the library makes use of, including the LMS, OPAC, computer booking software, online authentication, the library’s social media presence, and I’ll soon be responsible for the online video streaming service. I’m also the main classifier of new book stock and one third of the library’s user-education team. Although I am mostly a technical librarian, I do still do the occasional stint on the circulation desk.

Anything else?
I am the committee secretary for CILIP West Midlands branch, and acting marketing officer too. I am currently revalidating my chartership (hoping to submit by August) and taking NVQ level 5 in leadership and management. The library in which I work is preparing for the CoLRiC Peer Assessment Scheme. Which means, in effect, that I am simultaneously working on 3 portfolios… I fear I may go a teeny bit mad!

What’s my background:
I have a BA in history, MSc in information and library management and chartered in 2010. I have worked in libraries for 10 years (4 in FE colleges and 6 as a school librarian).

What do I think of libraries?
Love ‘em, each and every one! I was 24 when I made the conscious decision to get my life in order and find a career, and deciding on libraries was the best decision I’ve ever made. I haven’t regretted it for a second. I believe in libraries and am proud to call myself a librarian.

What will I tweet about?
A little of this, a little of that – wherever the conversation takes me. As I work in a college, tweets will be based around Further Education. I’ll likely tweet about user education, social media, circulation tasks and the systems that keep everything ticking over.

Want to contact me?
Please feel free to pump me for info during my Twitter takeover (AKA sharing good practice, perhaps bad practice too!). You can find me on Twitter as @caraclarke and I maintain a blog called Behind the Bookshelves ( ) which I use for informal self-reflection (AKA random library musings). I am by no means a font of all knowledge, but I’m interested in anything which shares ideas and sparks discussion.

(A necessary evil nowadays I’m afraid…) Please note that any comments I make are my own views and do not represent that of my employer or any other organisation with which I am involved.

Marshall Dozier, Academic Liaison Librarian, University of Edinburgh

My name is Marshall Dozier, and work as an academic ‘liaison librarian’ for postgraduates and researchers in Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Ground Floor, Edinburgh University Library. Poem.
I guess a liaison librarian is like a ‘subject librarian’ in that we each tend to specialise in a small number of subject areas, but I like to think of the role as a two-way cultural attaché – except without any under-cover intelligence work. I mean, the intelligence work is pretty overt, really.
I also have an advocacy role in supporting online digital education – we have a very active development programme at the University for online distance learning. I teach a course on the MSc Digital Education here at UoE, and, when I’m not procrastinating about it, am studying for a doctorate in education in the area of information behaviour. Mostly I seem to be procrastinating, I confess.
When I applied to take part in this voiceslibrary tweeting, one of the questions I was asked to address in this blog is why I wanted to take part. That stumped me…but I think it’s because I want to *show off* how wonderful library work can be. I’m pleasantly surprised by the variety of activities we do, by how much I learn every day from our students and colleagues. Also, I think it’s worth trying to *clear up* what libraries are about, since it appears that many policy-makers really have no idea how libraries serve communities. Is this account reaching social policy-makers? No idea, but I hope so.
Libraries support my strong belief that access to information and education are fundamental human rights.
I’m afraid I’ve come across all serious – let’s make up for that with fun in the tweets.
My personal twitter account is @mafrado – maybe see you there 🙂

Dan Grace, Information Adviser at Sheffield Hallam University

+Important things you should know:

  • I really can’t stand the word “customers” to describe people who use libraries.

  • Like Chuck D and Queen Sofia of Spain I am a pescetarian. My moral justifications for this choice are convoluted and, occasionally, contradictory.

  • The first half of the week I am a Library and Information Assistant at Sheffield Public Reference and Information Library. I have been working there for just over five years.

  • I once served an ice cream to that guy who played Trigger in “Only Fools and Horses”.

  • I write. Mainly poetry. Please don’t hold this against me.

  • If you haven’t already you should really read “Anarchy in action” by Colin Ward. It explains anarchism, my political philosophy of choice, much better than I could ever manage here.

  • In September I’ll start a PhD looking at how technology effects public libraries ability to build more resilient communities. To do this I will have to give up my job working in a public library. I think this is ironic, but I’m not sure.

  • Despite being 33 years old I still play Dungeons and Dragons on a semi-regular basis. I’m hoping that this, like thick framed glasses and bad haircuts, is now cool.

  • The second half of the week I work as an Information Adviser at Sheffield Hallam University. That’s a subject librarian, just to clarify.

  • Never dress up as an owl to promote a database to students. It doesn’t work.

Things I will most likely tweet about (all in relation to libraries, obvs):

  • Privatisation, neoliberalism, nasty evil capitalism, and so on.

  • Mental health.

  • Equality.

  • The daily grind.

  • My PhD. I’ll try not to go on about this too much, but I’m really very excited about it.

  • Many other things which may not seem at first as if they’re connected to the library world. Trust me, they are.

Dan can be found at @danpgrace on Twitter and at his two irregularly updated blogs: (writing) and (libraries and community resilience).

Follow Dan this week on @VoicesLibrary

Sarah Mallen, Information Manager, The University of Manchester, Careers & Employability Division

Image of a row of books from The Sunday Times series of books on self development at work.

Image from Careers Library, University of Machester

I’m a chartered librarian working in a Higher Education Careers Service; there are more of us out there than you might think!

It’s an information specialism that few people know about as a career option and if you are researching options for your own career then the resources we use in our daily work could be useful for you.

I work with 2 professional bodies to do my bit promoting the skills of information professionals

I’m on the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) North West Academic & Research Libraries Group committee – A great opportunity to talk to Information professionals in Higher Education & Further Education in a wider context. It’s great to hear about innovations and changes going on in other parts of the sector and strangely comforting to know that the same issues are affecting us all.

I also work with my other professional body AGCAS (Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services) on training, networking, events and conferences for information staff, via CISG the Careers Information Specialists Group.

Information staff are often at the front line of Information Advice and Guidance provision at Careers Services, however it is often overlooked as a profession.  Voices for the Library is a great opportunity to tell people about our world.

I’ll tell you a bit about me and my team here at Manchester, talk about the national picture and trends in Information Advice and Guidance.  You can also ask me any questions about careers resources, recommendations for your users or yourself!

Sarah is an Information Manager at The University of Manchester Careers and Employability Division and blogs about Careers Information resources and issues at  Information Spaces

Follow @VoicesLibrary

Alison Russell, Librarian, Halton Lea Library

Alison was @VoicesLibrary curator w/c 27th May 2013

I’ve worked in public libraries for 8 years.  I began as a trainee librarian at Widnes Library whilst doing my Post Graduate Diploma in Information Management at Liverpool John Moores University.  Once I graduated I moved over the water (as we say in Halton) to Halton Lea Library in Runcorn.

I became Halton’s Stock Officer (part of a job share) in 2008.  This was a three year secondment which I found to be incredibly enjoyable, if not a little challenging at times. I’m now back working as librarian at Halton Lea Library.

I am immensely proud of being a librarian – when I meet new people I often find myself willing them to ask me what I do just so I can tell them that I’m a librarian!  I think public libraries are incredibly important to our local communities – they are places to learn, relax and be entertained.

I think that librarians, as a profession, must shout as loud as we can about the good work that we do and the impact that we have on people’s lives.

We have been trained by custom healthcare software development services, but we also help people learn to read, we help them find jobs, we signpost healthcare services, we help both the young and the old – we affect all aspects of people’s lives in such a positive way and we should all be proud of what we do.   Understandably, we are working in very difficult times at the moment but I am incredibly excited about the changes we are going through and the possible opportunities these may bring in the future.

I hope you enjoy reading my tweets over the coming week.  Please feel free to ask me any questions.


Hong-Anh Nguyen, Information Specialist, NHS Evidence / The King’s Fund

Hong-Anh was the curator w/c 20th May 2013

Were I a 1920s circus sideshow act, I’d be The Incredible Book-Eating Girl (also in homage to my favourite children’s book illustrator, Oliver Jeffers). In real life however, I’m Hong-Anh and I am an Information Specialist for The King’s Fund, a healthcare think-tank in London. I divide my time between working on a sub-contract for NICE and the other half for our in-house Information and Library Service. In all likelihood, you won’t know what The King’s Fund is (prize for anyone who does!*); we’re a charity and think-tank working to improve healthcare in England through our research into health management and policy and our leadership development work. The library is unique in that we’re a free, publicly-accessible source of information on health and social care management and policy.

‘Information Specialist’ sounds a bit souped-up and sexed-up, doesn’t it? I have no qualms at being called a librarian but I think for my job it’s entirely appropriate. Almost all of my work is based online, from the current awareness products that I produce; to leading on our library Twitter account; to adding content to an online database. The most traditional librarian thing I do is answer enquiries but even then the large majority of enquiries are received online, either by email, through an online form or via our IM service. (Fear not, I still get asked where the toilet is and whether I have a stapler a whole lot too.)

I went to library school at the University of Sheffield in 2008/9 after five years of working as a library assistant for Southwark Libraries and more interestingly, for Southwark Education Library Service (do many ELS still exist? I rather doubt it, sadly.) So as well as putting in time in public libraries and school education services, I’ve also dipped into academic services (part-time shelver whilst I was doing my MA); school libraries (my first job out of library school, as a library assistant at a private school in Surrey); and arts & heritage institutions (volunteering for eight months at an august natural sciences museum in London).

Once I vacate the throne of @voiceslibrary and pass the sceptre to someone else (alas, fame – so fleeting!), you can find me @deweydecibelle where I talk mainly about what item of food I have inadvertantly left on my face that day; what I’ve read on today’s Daily Mail sidebar of shame; and Doctor Who.

*Not really. Sorry.

Kathleen O’Neill – Assistant Librarian, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London

Kathleen O'Neil is the Assistant Librarian at Sotheby's Institute of Art, London

Kathleen O’Neil is the Assistant Librarian at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London

I first volunteered for the Twitter Takeover in the countdown to National Libraries Day on Saturday 8 February because, as I said then, I don’t believe that enough people know enough about what it is, precisely, that we librarians do. It’s been great to see the Twitter Takeover keep going, so successfully, and to be extended to give each of us a week. I’ve had some great conversations with those participating thus far.  So here I am, back for an encore!

That first time around, my focus was to increase public understanding of a librarian’s role. As I said then:

“Our jobs are so much more than issuing and returning books, but as long as that is the prevailing understanding of our role, governments and councils, and some members of the public, will consider us easily replaced with anybody able to scan a barcode and shelve a book.

This is our opportunity to show who we are, what we do, and why.  This week, my fellow librarians and I will show how we, and the resources and spaces that we make available to all, are an essential part of any society and country which wishes to educate its people to achieve their goals and to strive to improve themselves and their lives.”

I still see this as part of my role during my week of taking over Twitter, but am also looking at it as a way to share information with, to give support to, and receive support from, my colleagues, in all walks of librarianship.

As a scholar-librarian, I’ll talk about my research – the enhancement and practical application of my librarianship skills – over the course of the week as well. It makes me a better librarian because I share the experiences of library users seeking information. My most immediate research project is a comparison of the issues surrounding banned books in Canada and in the UK, although I’m still reading around library space discussions, to rewrite my conference presentation on a comparison of libraries to gardens and religious buildings.

Kathleen is the Assistant Librarian at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London and blogs about libraries and librarians on The Victorian Librarian

Hannah Clark, Leading Library Assistant, British Library Newspaper Collections, London

Hello! I’m Hannah Clark, I’m a Leading Library Assistant at the British Library Newspaper Collections, based in Colindale, North London. At our site we hold the majority of all newspapers published in the UK, national and local, dating back to the late 1600s. We also have a large collection of comics, journals and magazines, all published inUK, as well as many foreign publications from the Commonwealth countries and beyond. The building, which has held newspapers on the site since 1903 contains 45km worth of shelving to work with, covering 52,000 titles, as well as BrightSOLID, who are working to digitise items of the collection to be made available online on the British Newspaper Archive.

Photo of Hannah Clark in the stacks at the British Library Newspaper Collections, London

Hannah Clark, British Library Newspaper Collections

However, we’re going to be closing as the currently building isn’t suitable for housing some of the older, delicate items, and the collection will be moved up to the British Library’s new newspaper facility in Boston Spa this autumn. During this week I’ll be telling you about how this Library runs, telling you what you might find here before it closes and showing you some of my favourite things about the place!

 I love being able to glimpse into the past through the books we have here, the smell of old newspapers and I take great joy in helping a reader find a vital piece of information that might not find elsewhere!

Outside of the Library, I love music, I play in keyboards and sing in a band and I love getting stuck into a good video game, or novel.

Hannah usually tweets as @HannahMClark