My lovely boss asked me some Brexit questions: Brinsbury exit…
What’s your first memory of Brinsbury?
Trying to find the library. A member of the Chichester team had drawn me a map of how to get from the car park to the library doors. I spent a few minutes circling the pond, looking confused.
What’s your funniest memory?
Ooo. This is tricky. I’ve really enjoyed involving the students and staff in #BookFaceFriday as we’ve had some hilarious outcomes (see evidence).
But the funniest moment has to be when one of our regular students realised how a library works…
Me: Shall I put these on your account to take home? Will you need a bag?
Student: (A few seconds silence). You mean I can take the books home?
Student: To my house?
Me: Errr. Yeah…
Student: (Huge gasp).
Me: (Baffled). Are you okay?
Student: (Shouting and running around the library, and the adjoining computer room, addressing everyone in her lesson. Actually, even people who were not in her group). Oh my God, guys. Guys! Guys! Did you know we can TAKE THE BOOKS HOME?! This is the BEST THING EVER.
Sum up Brinsbury in a sentence and a single word.
Sentence: Brinsbury is a melting pot of people, ideas and aspirations.
What will you miss about Brinsbury?
The three Ss… Stella (my boss), students and staff. But I’ll also miss the job because it’s varied, unpredictable and rewarding.
What are you looking forward to leaving behind?
Bloody dust jackets: those covers we have to put on hardback books which have a sleeve. They are so hard to do and I always seem to have an audience when I’m doing it. Also, Bert. He’s the spider who lives on one of the CCTV cameras. He walks across it most mornings, looking like a giant character from Dr Who. He gives me palpitations and makes my Apple Watch buzz: Well done! You have exercised and raised your heart rate.
How would you describe working at Brinsbury to someone who doesn’t know it?
This is tricky. Horses and ferrets and chainsaws and trees and forges and strawberries and cooking and squirrels and mud and boots and laughter.
The library is the kind of place where the same day will include: teaching a student how to save and print a Word document; coaching a student on how to improve a CV and apply for a job; helping choose a fiction book for a student’s son; teaching study skills to a class so they can research – beyond Google – for a forthcoming assignment; making a pot of coffee for a lecturer who hasn’t stopped all day and who needs a caffeine injection; showing a student how to apply for a university place; reading a book to a delightful group of 4 year olds who’ve popped in from First Steps Nursery; taking photos of plants and pets reading in various poses; teaching a Higher Access student how best to use an academic, peer-reviewed article for an assignment on conservation issues; unjamming the photocopier a few times; unjamming the photocopier a few more times; signing up students and staff for a reading challenge; setting up a microphone for a poetry event; working alongside a student volunteer; issuing headphones, books, laptops, phone chargers; visiting a GCSE English class to offer support in the build up to exams; covering the 52 books Stella has suddenly ordered; creating content for our social media platforms.
3 top tips for your replacement.
1. Get to know the students. They are great and the more you know about them, the more you’ll understand them and the more you can help them.
2. Get to know the campus. Don’t just hide away in the library. It’s true that people will come to you (the library is the heart of the college) but you’ll be missing out if you don’t go and visit the teams all across Brinsbury.
3. Wear comfy shoes/boots. Some days, I’ve walked 4 miles without leaving the tiny building.
Advice to Stella…
No advice needed. Keep doing what you’re doing because you’ve reinvented the library service and it’s dazzling. Oh, but keep the coffee jar topped up.
Advice to students…
Stop putting things off. Get that assignment done. Start that homework. Book your driving lessons or test. Organise WEX. Apply for the part time job. Do it all now so you can manage your time and responsibilities, instead of panicking when all the deadlines come at once.
What will do on your first day off (WHEN YOU SHOULD BE AT BRINSBURY?!)
Drawing up an action plan for how I’ll get enough research done by July 2020 to pass my PhD Year 1 confirmation review. Let’s not talk about that as it’s making me nervous!
Turns out the best laid plans and all that jazz… I didn’t even make it to the end of half term before I injured myself. Three intercostal tears and a 3-6 week recovery time. So, I’ve spent the first “day off” stuck in a reclining chair, taking medication and alternating between a hot water bottle and an ice pack. Joy.